While looking for my eminent person, I was looking for someone who was like me. Someone who was an east Asian women, who made a change. I found lots of empowering women, such as Karlie Kloss, Oprah Winfrey and many others. However, the one person that stuck to me was Guo Pei, a Chinese courtier. I was intrigued by her because she was the person who designed Rhianna’s 2015 MET Gala dress. Right then, I knew I wanted to learn more about her.

 

Guo Pei’s dress at the MET art museum

Guo Pei was born in 1967, which just happened to be the start of the cultural revolution in China. Due to the cultural revolution, Chinas old rich traditions were cut off, as well as western culture was looked down upon. This meant that Guo Pei grew up during an era of roughly no culture. However, in 1978, the opening up policy got passed and Guo Pei had the chance to study clothing design in Bei Jing. Yet still, people didn’t understand that clothing design is an intricate and artistic skill. People looked down on Guo Pei thinking she was a mere seamstress and was wasting her life. She didn’t let that stop her and continued to pursue her goal. She wanted to design a gorgeous ball gown, but even her boss told her that it was useless and was never going to sell. Year by year, her passion grew stronger, but more people shut her down. Eventually she quit her job and started to pursue on her own. In 1997, she launched her own label, Rose Studios, one of the first fashion design companies in China.

She only grew from there, now many show hosts, celebrities and singers come to her for to design their outfits. However, when she designs her work, she makes sure to include traditional Chinese art into her work. Some of her clothing pieces can take up to 2 years to make and 50,000 man hours to make. People come to Guo Pei to design their clothing because they know Guo Pei devotes her heart designing. This is what drew me to choosing Guo Pei.

Even though I don’t see myself following the same career path as Guo Pei chose, I aspire to have her perseverance and pursue my own passion no matter what others say. My obstacles are somewhat like hers, such as people telling me its not worth my time, or not having the resources. Due to the fact she grew up in a Chinese family, I have a brief idea of what it must have been like when her family told her that her passion was useless.

The main barrier between Guo Pei and I is that she grew up in an environment where thinking outside of the box. Academics and statistics were viewed as precious things, while creativity was looked down upon. Guo Pei still managed to express herself and didn’t follow the mold. However, I live in such an open environment now, where I can express however I want and I will be supported. To find out what it was like for Guo Pei, I can ask people that also grew up in that period, such as my parents.

Through this project, I can learn so much about my culture, old traditions, and how Guo Pei went from Bei Jing to Paris. Chinese fashion is so under looked and I’m taking up this opportunity to bring more light to it.