There are times that a work of art stuns the viewer to silent awe, where you feel you've come into contact with the divine - and that is certainly my feeling when viewing the fantastical work of Chinese couturière Guo Pei. 

Many of her designs draw inspiration from the mystical splendor of ancient Chinese empires, artifacts from the decadent Ming and Qing Dynasties, and images of nymphs and deities from Chinese fairy tales. They are re-imagined with a futuristic flair, and extravagant in their embellishments. I love this dress, the folds of which remind me of the lotus flower.

As European fashion houses have subtly begun cutting back on handwork due to rising labor costs, Guo Pei takes the opposite approach. One dress, made entirely of golden panels, logged over 50,000 hours in embroidery work. Guo Pei was raised during the time of the Cultural Revolution, when the only fashion being worn was the revolutionary uniform. Now, 40 years later, the Chinese fashion industry is experiencing a revolution of its own, as if to make up for those decades of political dress, and utilitarian fashion.

"I always have a desire to create something that is fashion and is not fashion," says Guo Pei. ‘‘So a dress ends up weighing 50 kilos! Every piece is not fashion anymore. It’s sculpture; it’s painting. I want to put all that into a dress.’’ You can tell from the 1002th Arabian Night runway show that many of the pieces and shoes are extremely difficult to move in, which to me adds to their majesty in a way. I think the models pull it off beautifully, and I am so excited to see what she creates next.


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