Gilded mirrors line the walls of the reception area, a complete lion skin, with head attached, acts as a carpet, a grand wrought-iron staircase sweeps up towards the fitting room. People who head to Guo Pei's studio expecting the decor to be as outrageously flamboyant as her gowns are never disappointed. The bland exterior of the Rose Studio premises, in a faceless suburban industrial estate, gives no idea of the wonders that lie within. 'Nothing prepares you for the many-hued jolt any more than the desert prepares you for Las Vegas,' said New York Times fashion writer Cathy Horyn. 'Next to Guo Pei's dresses, the most elaborate Paris stuff is a dim bulb - and growing weaker as European houses subtly cut back on handwork to meet rising labour costs.' The designer does not do things by halves. For her 2010 winter collection, she flew in septuagenarian model Carmen Dell'Orefice from New York to model a jewelled gown with a fur-trimmed cape that was so heavy it needed a two-man escort to bear the weight, and two lads to carry the train. Other gowns included a Japanese geisha-style creation with embroidered dragons, a yellow fur coat with matching gold boots that appear to have been inspired by the Apollo moon-landing missions and sultry scarlet frocks that would not look out of place in a Wild West bordello. In the design world of Guo Pei couture exotic dreams really do come true.