By the last day of couture, some individuals are fading, the energy is lost. The parties, the dinners, the late night writing sessions have everyone running on a very little amount of sleep. In steps Guo Pei! One of the last couture shows on the schedule, her show was a spectacle of magic and enchantment, a pep in the step of tired feet.
Set in the Cirque l’hiver, a location which over the years has been used for Gaultier and Galliano shows alike, the Pei show was a true declaration of artisanal craft. French papier maché artist Charles Macaire had crafted a giant elaborate tree, hanging from its trunk with the tips of its branches almost grazing the mirrored floor. This tree, and indeed the pink and gold lighting that shone upon it, was an indication of the mystical theme of 'Life' Pei had cited as a reference. As did the nymph-like characters who began appearing from behind the curtain, each in clear structural shoes that gave the appearance of floating - not too dissimilar to the McQueen gravity-defying shoes of yesteryear. Structural headpieces of swirls and gold added too to the fairytale elements. One felt a little as though they had stumbled into A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The clothes that fell upon these flower faeries were incredibly detailed and ornate. When one thinks of traditional couture, one thinks of this. Fringing, beading, gilding, applique, lace, structure, silks, satins. It was an overload of artisanal craft. It was unapologetically decadent. That's part of what makes Pei so unique and brilliant. Who else can you say is so unabashedly palatial?
A step away from the long, training dresses a la Rihanna at The Met Ball most will know Pei for, this was a shorter-dress affair with puffball, flared and A-line all taking centre stage. Corseted torsos gave attention to the décolletage and heavy embroidery drew the eye down hourglass silhouettes and long leg. Each piece exquisitely hand-decorated with natural gemstones and crystals - another indication of this gilded paradise that Pei has conjured.
This show was flamboyant and feminine, romantic even. One felt transported to another world with Pei's imagination and detailed craft. There's not enough of a fanfare for Pei, more acknowledgement for her dedication and beautiful work is certainly needed. She's been showing in Paris for years and in production for over twenty. Of course, she is incredibly popular in the Asian market and I should hope, that after such a celebratory show, she will be recognised more so amongst the Western market too.