The Story

Guo Pei Autumn/Winter 2019/20

Alternate Universe


Life and death are never just religious propositions or philosophical thoughts, it is also a domain which artists never stop exploring and expressing. Approaching middle-age, life and death are no longer just poetry chants. With the loss of beloved ones, you wonder what it will be like when the journey ends. Since death is inevitable, I prefer to imagine it as a dream, an alternate universe parallel to this world, where everything returns to its original state of true pureness and beauty. It is the start of a mysterious journey.

——Guo Pei


On July 3rd, Guo Pei presents her Autumn/Winter 2019/20 Couture collection at the Beaux-Arts de Paris. Under the magnificent glass dome of the Cour Vitree hall, a whole new universe emerges. Here, light and darkness co-exist, angels and Satan sit next to each other. Humans are no longer the masters of this world. Monkeys sit on the king’s throne under the guidance of prophets.


For this collection, pineapple hemp fabric, the treasured material of the Philippines, is widely used. In existence for over 400 years, pineapple hemp extracted from the leaf fiber of pineapple plants, and put through seven manual processes such as spinning, rinsing, drying and knotting to produce the fabric. It is light yet tenacious. Through its natural ivory color and translucent delicate texture, pineapple hemp fabric provides the perfect look to the Grecian-style silhouettes of the collection. Like goddesses in Greek mythology, exuding pure and sacred wisdom.


Guo Pei explores her creativity using various sewing techniques on pineapple hemp fabric to juxtapose the world she imagines – through hand folded pleats - she expresses the sense of architectural space, through hot stamped fabric – she restores the remnants of ancient Greek scrolls, through exquisite silk embellished with radiant pearls, feathers and Swarovski crystals – she depicts the elegance of genies and goblins.


Crows play an essential role in Guo Pei’s Alternate Universe. At the border between life and death, crows are the messengers of wisdom, shuttling the universes for his compatriots in the forms of hand-embroidered beetles, spiders, butterflies and bees. Guo Pei’s signature three-dimensional embroidery is once again in the spotlight. Combined with the use of Lafite embroidery techniques, the designer conjures up vivid images of these creatures, layered with rich emotion and life-like texture.Drawing inspiration from life’s beauty, lifelike animal and insect images feature heavily on this season’s pieces, from the monkeys of Aesop’s Fables to the poisonous snake which lured Eve to steal the forbidden fruit. 


The dresses’ silhouettes are interweaved with elements from various civilizations. Guo Pei restores the elegance of Greek goddess with the fluid lines of Grecian drapes. On the other hand, she references designs of the ancient European royal courts - from the Gothic aristocratic Poulaine shoes to the exquisitely crafted Ralph collar of the Baroque era, to the iconic Panier oval skirt of the Renaissanceera. Guo Pei uses these dramatic styles together with the use of silver, light gold and light grey colours to paint the pure beauty she sees of this universe.


Behind each arch in this realm created for the show, is a meditative journey guarded by devils and angels. Here, gods have human nature, humans have animal nature, plants and animals are given godhood – giving life to Guo Pei’s alternate universe.


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