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Telling fairy tales with clothes (2)

By Mark Graham  (China Daily)

16:26, February 25, 2013

Guo says she is like an author telling fairy tales with clothes.(China Daily)

Guo has a style that is unmistakable. Inspirations for her creations can come from disparate sources including bullfighting outfits, imperial gowns and Hollywood fantasy movies. The intricacy of the embroidery and beading work on each special order can require up to a year of work.

"I like garments that are very elegant and classic and have a lot of detail," she says. "I am like an author with my clothes, I like to tell a romantic story, a fairy tale. I get my inspiration from many sources. Watching the Tim Burton movie about the bride who died, and came back to life in the moonlight, wearing a beautiful dress, was one source. From movies like that you can see the meaning of life and how precious it is.

"On a visit to Paris, I saw Napoleon's costumes in a museum and that really gave me ideas also."

Guo works from Rose Studio, located in an outer suburb of Beijing. The nondescript exterior gives no hint of the glamour that lies within: The interior decor is wildly elaborate, with chandeliers, mirrors, animal-skin rugs and gold bird cages, plus an ornamental iron staircase that winds to the upper floor.

A staff of 150 work in the studio, with another 300 employed in factories that make the garments; the finished items sell for between $3,000 to $50,000, depending on the intricacy involved.

The designer, who is the mother of two daughters, is not the out-and-out extrovert her creations might suggest. Dressed simply in black, with no entourage, carrying a phone that rings constantly, Guo is warm, softly spoken, bright-eyed and thoughtful, carefully considering replies to questions rather than trotting out well-rehearsed answers.

She says: "I think there are two sides to my personality. Inside, when I am creating, it is very dramatic, but outside it is the opposite. I am just the creator of the dream: My personal style is very simple because I have to work every day, so it is more convenient to dress simply.

"For me, it is the technical side of design that I find interesting. For inspiration I like to go to museums all over the world. I like all designers, they all have their strengths and personal styles - Yves Saint Laurent was an influence, and John Galliano at Dior.

Currently, almost all the items Guo makes are at the couture end of the fashion spectrum, but she has plans to introduce more ready-to-wear pieces including bridal outfits.

The fancy togs Guo currently makes are certainly not items that could be worn to the office. For one collection, she flew in septuagenarian model Carmen Dell' Orefice from New York to model a jeweled gown that was so heavy it needed a two-man escort to bear the weight, and two boys to help 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.

Writer Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily saw Guo's work for the first time at a show in Beijing, and was amazed at the clothes - and surprised by the tepid reaction from the audience. "In Paris or New York she would have got a two-minute standing ovation," he wrote. "Everything about the show was impressive, except maybe the audience.

"There were hints of Galliano and McQueen, but Guo Pei very much does her own thing, from the traditional wooden heeled shoes that morph into red carpet platforms to the exquisitely-finished chinoiserie beading and embroidering.

"Guo Pei can also cut a mean suit - a series of midnight blue jackets and boleros with sky blue embroidery and extended chiffon fringes showed she is a great tailor."

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Ye Xin)

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