Haute couture is not made for commercial gain, but more for a kind of inner quest, a satisfaction of our spiritual being.

Guo Pei was born in 1967 and is China’s most renowned couturier because of her historical references, traditional techniques and contemporary vision of the world. 

Guo Pei,Porcelain dress, 1002 Nights collectionImage
provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

A graduate of the the Beijing Second Light Industry School, in 2016 she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and one of the Business of Fashion’s BoF 500, naming the most influential people shaping the global fashion industry.

Next year, The Legion of Honour,one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, will next year host a major exhibition highlighting the extraordinary work of Guo Pei, also known as China’s first couturier. 

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy at the Legion of Honor will include more than 110 works from the past two decades highlighting her most important collections shown on Beijing and Paris runways. The designer has been credited with “reinventing imperial style” through a contemporary lens. 

Guo Pei, Alternate Universe,Fall-Winter2019-2020Photography by Lian Xu,
Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

Her stunning creations are produced by talented artisans and some of the pieces you will see on display, have taken thousands of hours and up to two years to complete.

The Legion of Honor says that the exhibition reveals the trajectory of Guo Pei’s career as both remarkable yet emblematic of China’s emergence “as a leader in the fashion world in the early twenty-first century. The presentation further traces Pei’s role in the revival of Imperial Chinese embroidery, and explores the relationship between Chinese theater and fashion”.

In San Francisco, this highly anticipated exhibition, will no doubt delight high fashion and art lovers alike. The work of Guo Pei is both high fashion and art and it creates a fantasy that according to the organisers “ fuses the influences of China’s imperial past, decorative arts, European architecture, and the botanical world”. 

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco says regarding the exhibition,

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco highlights only extraordinary artists, those that have changed the course of fashion history. We are particularly excited to present the groundbreaking work of Guo Pei, who fuses China’s imperial past with the present, using traditional embroidery techniques in her exquisite creations that transcend art and fashion. The sculptural nature and iconographical references used in her work will be all the more amplified by the neo-classical architecture and collections at the Legion of Honor.

He added that the city of San Francisco, with its position on the Pacific Rim, and significant Chinese heritage is “a natural location to premiere the first major museum exhibition on Guo Pei’s work and to present her elegant designs, deeply rooted in ancient Chinese tradition to US audiences”

The retrospective of Guo Pei work in this iconic neoclassical building with its decorative arts collection is perfect to show the artistry of her couture and how the personal merges with the historical. Displaying her creations among the museum’s collections of European painting and decorative art, particularly Chinese export art,makes the exhibition also a metaphor for the intercontinental world in which we live.

For those Lady of the World readers lucky enough to be in San Francisco between April 16 to September 5, 2022, please make sure you don’t miss this exhibition. Particularly if you are into high fashion and art.