A virtual menagerie is what Guo Pei presented for the fall 2020 couture season. Titled Savannah, the collection explores the wildlife that inhabit the African ecosystem and how (even amid a pandemic) it is crucial that people consider its preservation. “As my 10th Paris couture show is presented on digital platforms, I hope to show a different side of my designs—one that is close to life,” she said in a video. “This global health challenge has impacted all of us. It has changed our perceptions towards life. Not just mankind, but towards animals, plants, and our planet. We are more passionate about life.”
This passion is reflected in 17 looks that capture the essence of the flora and fauna in the grasslands. There’s a white sculptural suit with a zebra appliqué extending from the chest to the left arm; another two-piece, this one in green and featuring fringe and an embroidered landscape at the hem; a black iridescent sack dress with a cheetah sitting regally on its front; a greyish-blue coat with a pronounced collar and elephant heads at the hip; and an A-line frock with a giraffe’s neck coiling from the lower back to the chest as white chiffon flows from the sides.
Guo’s penchant for the fanciful is put on full display—along with the gimlet-eyed precision and fine detailing that she has brought to her couture collections, which are often inspired by great works of art and antiques. In fact, it was an exhibition of wild animals at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris that piqued Guo’s interest in the subject; the way, as she stated, the “animals were lined up as if they were migrating.” It would have been interesting to see what she would have done if she had the ability to present one of her wondrous shows at an in-person event, but the virtual format—with a video that shows her atelier crafting each piece in the lineup—also worked in her favour.
“For me, the most significant part of staging a couture show is that a designer gets to demonstrate their craftsmanship,” she said. “Like artists showing their craft. Every time they create, they are seeking to create a breakthrough using different techniques to produce extraordinary art pieces.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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