You may not have heard of Guo Pei, but every darkling should, especially since her Spring/Summer 2017 couture show at Paris Fashion Week is something you will absolutely adore. Guo Pei is a Chinese fashion designer who is renowned among the Chinese community for dressing celebrities. Remember that large, trailing, yellow fur dress worn by Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala? Guo Pei herself crafted that.
Inspired by her trip to Saint Gallen Cathedral in Switzerland, Guo Pei’s S/S 2017 collection showcased flowing fabrics reminiscent of Renaissance paintings, beautiful gold brocade, religious symbology, and regal structure. Bejeweled and gilded crowns sat atop large, voluminous hair. Models’ faces were painted with gold and silver; some dripping with jewels, others glowing with gold shadows and pale, puckered lips. Elaborate jewel-encrusted, stacked platforms that almost appeared to be made of metal finished each look.
The show took place at Conciergerie, where none other than Marie Antoinette was imprisoned just before her beheading. It seems fitting, then, that a glowing apparition of her very likeness opened the show, descending down the dark runway wearing a green phosphorescent ball gown and crown atop a tall, white wig. A glowing green candelabra lit her way, giving the opening look the feeling of a technicolor nightmare. The nineteen look collection then followed, floating down the runway in all its regal splendor.
Each garment looks as though it could have been peeled straight off the walls and ceilings of cathedrals; the models plucked from Europe’s royal halls, invoking divine power. Tulle, feathers, and brocade contribute to the rich texture of the collection, while hoops and wires give each piece a unique structure, embellished with beautiful beading and metallic elements. Gilded and bejeweled crosses are featured throughout the entire collection, a nod to the divine pretension of medieval monarchs.
It took two years for Guo Pei’s team to complete the collection, and it shows in every detail.
The second look transports us to a fairy tale world of evil queens and dark witches. The juxtaposition of delicate embroidery and a regal color palette in the bodice with metallic pants reminiscent of plate armor combine to create a look fit for a warrior queen equally comfortable riding into battle as she is sitting atop a splendid throne.
The fifth look contrasts a soft, sheer silhouette with a structured under bust corset. Light chiffon, embellished with clouds and cherubs, drapes over the body freely, while the metallic wire and detailed shoulders of the corset add a futuristic element to the silhouette. The gold leaf reminds us that this look is meant to be worn only by the fiercest of queens.
In the sixth look, a light, airy fabric that looks as if DaVinci himself painted it, is draped over hoops to create extreme volume and drama. Paired with an intricate golden bodice and a crown that almost appears to float over the models’ head like a halo, this look is fit for an ethereal Renaissance queen.
This look clearly highlights Guo Pei’s attraction to the beauty of cathedrals that inspired the entire collection. The pastel wash of blues and greens and figures looking as though they are floating through the dress combine to create wearable art reminiscent of a painted cathedral ceiling.
Hints of glistening pastel pinks and blues, contrasting against vibrant gold and emerald gems gives look ten a striking ethereal presence. The crown-like structure around the bottom of the gown holds up the hem, giving the illusion of the model floating down the runway, a hovering crown perched upon her voluminous hair.
The most modern in the collection, this look explores religious devotion and chastity. The midriff baring cape and lace up pants lend an air of sex appeal, while the jeweled chastity belt and pastel color palette remind us of innocence. A cross sits atop her head, reminding us of God’s unrelenting presence.
This look is nothing short of art, and is clearly inspired by the clothing worn by medieval bishops. Metallic green and gold weave throughout the gown, and the result is a shining metallic fabric. Bejeweled crosses pattern the front of the gown, and a miter-inspired headpiece sits upon the model’s head, a golden train flowing behind her. From beneath the miter, gold drips down onto the model’s somber face.
If Glinda the Good Witch had to attend royal court, this is the gown she would wear, complete with sheer puff sleeves and her signature shimmering pink. A clear orb even sits a top her bejeweled pink crown.
This gown, which can be described as nothing less than divine, is woven from a fabric of metal fiber and silk thread that Guo Pei developed herself for this collection.
This gown brings otherworldly galactic glam to the runway. Another representation of avant-garde religious imagery, the exaggerated miter entirely encasing the model’s head and shoulders conjures terrifying images of alien ova. The heavily detailed and beaded skirt reminds us of the original inspiration, while silver jewels and brows are undeniably futuristic.
For the finale, young, sculpture-esque boys escorted Carmen Dell’Orefice down the runway as she dripped in blood red lace and crystals. Through her fashion, Guo Pei transports us to a world of ghosts and beautiful Gothic horror.