And a spellbound audience in the Conciergerie, the former prison where Queen Marie-Antoinette was jailed before her beheading, witnessed a model with her hair piled high, carrying a candelabra, appearing as the ghost of Marie-Antoinette, the last Queen of France. It led a regal procession - but no photographs exist to record that opening moment. It was Guo Pei’s gift to her audience.
Guo Pei’s 21st century Royal Court
Guo Pei’s regal Ra-ra skirt. An explosion of ruffled jade tulle falls below a softly draped one-shouldered bodice embroidered with sculptural effects in gold silk thread. The jeweled headdress and earrings spell pure opulence.
Golden Girl for a Golden Age
Guo Pei was in search of the world’s most beautiful textiles when she first went to the small Swiss town of St. Gallen. While there, in early 2016, she also visited the medieval cathedral that inspired many aspects of the collection. You see it in this golden gown where the sheer bodice is decorated with a heavily jeweled central cross and falls to a gleaming golden skirt.
Guo Pei was at the famous Paris antique market at Saint-Ouen when she found a rare collection of gold embroidery thread, buried in a box of antique buttons and laces. She bought the lot and used the thread to create sculptured embroideries. The soft pastel dress fabrics are inspired by the medieval paintings in the cathedral at St. Gallen and feathers make another gown appear to float above the runway. Another swirls like an ocean wave.
Queen of the Night
Layers of exquisite beading and embroidery are the reason the world has come to admire Guo Pei’s collections. This silver hooded dress expresses the beauty of that embroidery. It was one of 19 outfits in the show. All the platform shoes were equally opulent.
Floating fabric inspired by the medieval drawings in the cathedral at St. Gallen create the impression of a lighter-than-air skirt on a bodice of three-dimensional golden embroidery. The collection took two years to complete.
Spirit of Versailles
Queen Marie-Antoinette created the fashion for exceptionally wide skirts held up by a frame underneath. Know as the robe a la francaise, the style was the hot trend in the 18th century. Guo Pei has taken the idea and given it her masterly, golden touch for a new age.
The Red Diva
Carmen Dell’Orefice, the legendary American model who is now 85 years old, first walked for Guo Pei in 2010. Dressed in a scarlet gown, dripping with crystals, she closed the show with the designer saying later; “She has the spirit of a queen”.
Pictures: Brandie Raasch; Writer Wenqi Zou