When Rihanna stepped onto the Met Gala red carpet in a jaw-dropping yellow gown, the fashion world pretty much came to a standstill. But who was the genius behind the epic creation? That honor belongs to Chinese couture designer Guo Pei.
The Bejing-based designer, 45, has been designing for 26 years. According to the The Straits Times, Pei took up fashion studies at the Beijing Second Light Industry School, then specialized in ready-to-wear in a women’s fashion company, Tian Ma. She started Rose Studio, a bespoke clothing business, in 1997.
The newspaper reports Pei “worked on her first couture dress in 2005, after a trip to Paris, where, on a visit to the Musee de l’Armee or the French Army Museum, she was so inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte’s regal military uniforms that she created a ball gown spun entirely from gold thread. It took a whole year to complete, with up to 100 workers embroidering the garment.”
The designer has been compared to everyone from Alexander McQueen to Coco Chanel
Pei has two pieces in this year’s Costume Institute exhibit: “Magnificent Gold was my design 12 years ago. It is displayed in one room in the Met, and it takes up the whole room, just one dress,” the designer told New York magazine. “At the time of designing it, I really did not know the concept of haute couture.” She continued, “My other dress is called Blue and Porcelain— as you know, china’s name comes from China, porcelain.” Magnificent Gold apparently took 50,000 hours to make, while Blue & Porcelain took 10,000.
Pei plans on launching a ready-to-wear collection this year. “Too many people around me say they love my dresses but cannot afford them. That makes me sad because I am not a designer for the minority,” the designer told The Straits Times.
Check out one of Pei’s fashion shows here:
See all the looks from the Met Gala!