Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei’s flowing fabrics impress at Paris haute couture shows
Guo’s focus on ‘the clothing itself’ rather than on expressing her feelings or dreams came across in metallic hourglass dresses and mini-crinoline shaped ball gowns, topped off by a jewellery collaboration with Chopard
Rihanna’s entrance at New York’s Met Ball in 2015 wearing a spectacular embroidered yellow cape and gown by Chinese couturier Guo Pei left an indelible impression in the public consciousness. Guo shone a light on the extraordinary finesse of Chinese craftsmanship, especially the skills of her embroiderers.
Up until now her collections have been anchored in tradition. However, on the first day of the autumn haute couture shows, in what is her fourth collection to be shown in Paris, the couturier has shifted her sights – first, by collaborating with Chopard on a collection of jewels comprising enormous emerald, sapphire and diamond necklaces that wouldn’t look out of place among the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, and then balancing that by paring down her dresses.
Instead of lavish embroideries there are now fabrics that flow over the body like iridescent liquid metal and an airy volume for some of her organza dresses that give an overall impression of lightness and delicacy.
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Guo Pei explains how for a long time she has been using her designs “to express my feelings, my dreams”, but this season “I just decided to just focus on the clothing itself”.
This was especially noticeable in the metallic hourglass siren dresses and frothier mini-crinoline shaped ball gowns. Her three-dimensional embroideries were reduced to panels of detail on a bodice or cuffs on a sleeve, which gave a contemporary feel to the collection and offered a glamorous showcase for the opulent gems.
It was the marriage of haute couture and haute joaillerie from Chopard that made the strongest statement. Guo Pei met Caroline Scheufele, co-president and artistic director of Chopard, in 2015, and an immediate friendship was born.
“Women are never as strong as when they combine their talents,” Scheufele says, adding they have proved that in a fashion and jewellery collection that blends Chinese and Western aesthetics and craftsmanship in an impressive way.