Traditional meets contemporary at Guo Pei’s exhibition in Singapore

In collaboration with world-famous couturière Guo Pei, Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) presents ‘Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture’. Held till 15 September 2019, the exhibition spans across two galleries and feature 29 of Guo Pei’s dresses, as well as 20 Chinese art pieces from the museum. 

Guo Pei Exhibition - Snow Queen (back view)

Guo Pei’s creations were erratic yet full of grandeur, it felt like I was walking through Lady Gaga’s wardrobe – had she been a fan of Chinese-inspired fashion. I personally like how each of her gowns come complete with accompanying accessories, headgear, and shoes.

Yellow Queen

Guo Pei Exhibition - Yellow Queen (side view)

Even before entering the galleries, visitors are met with the iconic “Yellow Queen” gown, which was worn by Rihanna at the Costume Institute Benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – the MET Gala – in 2015. As the theme for the 2015 MET Gala was “China: Through the Looking Glass”, Rihanna donned this 25-kilogram dress.
Some call it the “omelette dress”.

Photos of Rihanna in the Yellow Queen got the online community abuzz and even made the cover of a special edition of Vogue magazine, which propelled Guo Pei to international fame.

Guo Pei Exhibition - Yellow Queen (back view)

The Yellow Queen was inspired by China’s emperors and empresses, who were closely associated with a palette of brilliant yellows, representing gold, wealth and power. As yellow was once strictly reserved for Chinese nobility, Guo Pei’s gown takes a form of rebellion against the segregation of nobility and commoners.

Snow Queen

Guo Pei Exhibition - Snow Queen (front view)

My personal favourite out of all the gowns at the exhibit, the ‘Snow Queen’ gown is the heaviest gown on display at the exhibit at 50kg! The daunting yet exquisite gown was worn by American model Carmen Dell’Orefice at the ‘Rosestudio’ Guo Pei High Class Fashion Show 2010, during China Fashion Week, on 6 November 2009. She had to be supported by two men as she walked down the runway due to its immense weight. 

Magnificent Gold Gown

Guo Pei Exhibition - The Magnificent Gold

Inspired by a uniform worn by Napoleon Bonaparte, The ‘Magnificent Gold Gown’ is best known for its elaborate embroidery, which is intricate down to the finest detail. Its embroidery is similar to those found in historical thangkas, as Guo Pei’s team of embroiderers study the embroideries found in thangkas as part of their training. The Magnificent Gold Gown also took the longest time to complete – a whopping 50,000 work-hours was required to complete the gown.

Lotus and Goldfish Bridal Ensemble

Guo Pei Exhibition - Lotus and Goldfish Bridal set
Lotus and Goldfish Bridal Ensemble by Guo Pei, photo courtesy of Russell Wong

Needless to say, Guo Pei’s works are highly revered by local celebrities as well. Her Lotus and Goldfish Bridal ensemble was worn by celebrity actress Yang Yin, better known as Angelababy, during her wedding ceremony. 

This bridal set was inspired by a Chinese bridal gown that was on display at the Peranakan Museum’s 2010 travelling exhibition held in Paris. Guo Pei’s reimagined bridal ensemble sees a tighter silhouette, a larger skirt, and tapered sleeves, and features more luxurious embroidery. 

Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture

Guo Pei: Dresses

Date: 15 June to 15 September 2019
Asian Civilizations Museum, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555

Ticket prices start at S$12. For more information, visit

Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team. Other visuals courtesy of Russell Wong.

Deepa d/o Chevi Vadivelu

Animal and music lover, bookworm and movie enthusiast. #blackismyhappycolour

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