#ELLEFirstLook: China’s Most Prominent Couturier Guo Pei Gives An Insight Into Her Journey Advertisement
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#ELLEFirstLook: China’s Most Prominent Couturier Guo Pei Gives An Insight Into Her Journey

"I believe my special professional moment was designing for the Beijing Olympics, in 2008."

By Victor Gee  July 12th, 2021

Guo Pei is a known name in her home country, but the first thing that strikes the rest of the world upon hearing her name is Rihanna’s 25 kg Met Gala 2015 dress. It took over two arduous years in the making to go on and become an instant internet sensation. This phenomenon of a dress earned her a spot in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People 2016 list. In the same year, Guo Pei had arrived in Paris, France.

Guo Pei Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Fall/Winter 19/20

Once in Europe, the designer was accepted to be a member of the highest authority in French fashion, La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM). She is the first native Chinese to enjoy the honour. Her designs have been displayed in museums and worn by royalty and high profile personalities.

Guo Pei

Guo Pei Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Fall/Winter 19/20

A larger than life Guo Pei dress takes months of labour, and its price is considered an investment for generations to come. The master designer, who started a career almost 30 years ago, now leads an empire of over 400 employees, with 200 artists dedicated to embroidery.

From her headquarters in Paris, Guo Pei converses with ELLE India about her passion for fashion, her inspirations and the proudest moment of her illustrious career.

Guo Pei runway image 

ELLE: How has your professional journey been so far?

Guo Pei (GP): I started off as a ready-to-wear designer at a time when the Chinese fashion industry was thriving. For instance, a single design that I made would sell up to 50,000 pieces. Then during the following 10 years, I worked with Chinese celebrities and dressed almost 90 per cent of them who appeared on television. Eventually, 15 years ago, I started doing haute couture. I always wished to make a big dress, the most beautiful in the world—it was my way to express my feelings and interpretation of beauty. Eventually, this leads to FHCM inviting me to be a part of the federation. I believe my special professional moment was designing for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. It was an incredible opportunity to represent my country and showcase our culture to the entire world.

Guo Pei Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Fall/Winter 19/20

ELLE: Some of your dresses take years of delicate work. What is the creative process like?
GP: Everyone is curious about my inspiration and ideas, and I had the same question when I was young! When I graduated from school, I would look all around me and travel the world for sources of inspiration. Back then, it was difficult to find inspiration. But today, I will tell you that there is so much in mind, all the time and every second. I also like to employ my resources to work on clothes for clients or museums.

Guo Pei runway image 

ELLE: How much did Paris add to the credibility of your work?

GP: Paris is where haute couture started; it is the top of the pyramid-like the Himalayas inside my heart. Now I am living my dream and doing shows in Paris. But this was somehow intentional; I made a 30-year plan for myself. For the first 10 years, I focused on studying the textiles, techniques, designs and embroideries, before establishing my own brand in Beijing. It was a preparation for what I am doing now in Paris. So 2016 was closure for my 30 years of commute to Paris. Now, every fashion show is so unique; I am feeling more thrilled, one show after the other.

Guo Pei

Guo Pei Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture 2017

ELLE: How would you describe the Guo Pei woman?
GP: I am not working on ‘just a dress’; my designs will accompany the woman forever. Any adjustments that she requires will be made anytime later on. It is about loyalty and eternity. Like when a mother passes on her dress to her daughter, it becomes a story and a souvenir.

Guo Pei

Guo Pei Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture 2017

ELLE: Finally, what is a piece of advice for all the emerging designers out there?
GP: The most crucial thing is your work, and not yourself. Also, time is very important. It took me 30 years. So you need to study and focus on the process. The difficulty becomes fulfilling when you witness the results. Even now, I still care more about the process than the end product.

Guo Pei Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture 2017

Picture Courtesy: Guo Pei, IMAXtree, Getty Images 

Find ELLE’s June 2021 issue on stands or download your digital copy here.