One of the biggest resources I had during Eminent 2017 wasn’t any website or video, but it was my interviews. For this project, I sent out four interview requests. I sent one out to the makers of Guo Pei’s official website, one to a Vogue writer who wrote about her Paris Haute Couture, Amy Verner, one to a writer for New York Times, Allison McNearney, and one to the creator of the SCAD museum, Paula Wallace. I got three replies, however only two interviews. Amy Verner, Allison McNearney and Paula Wallace all responded.
Paula Wallace, as the founder of SCAD, was too busy to have an interview with me so she redirected me to Ms. Sachs, the executive director of SCAD FASH museum of fashion and film. I emailed Ms. Sachs, but she never replied.
On the bright side, both Ms. Verner and Ms. McNearney were happy to have an interview with me.
I found Amy Verner through Vogue. She wrote many articles about Guo Pei’s Paris Haute Couture. When I saw all the work she did about Guo Pei’s work, I knew I wanted an interview with her. With Ms. Verner, I couldn’t find her work email, but I did find her Instagram. Therefore, instead of emailing her I sent her a direct message requesting an interview. Luckily, she saw my message and agreed.
When I asked for an interview with Ms. Verner, she happened to be in Canada, so I could do my interview with her over the phone. There were pros and cons to this interview. A pro being I was able to connect more with my interviewee and it was easier to diverge off the questions. However, my phone didn’t have the feature to record the phone call, so I had to rush to take all the notes down, therefore some information was skipped over or overly simplified. This interview was still a great source of information though, I got plenty of opinionated views and inside thoughts on Guo Pei’s Paris Haute Couture.
Here is a snippet of the transcript of my interview with Amy Verner.
Interviewee: Amy Verner
- Does her clothing tend to follow clothing trends?
- Her haute is different than her ready to wear
- Haute not trend specific
- Do you know any of her inspirations?
- Spring/summer couture 17 – women legends trhough time, European focus, inspired by church, influences borouge, inspirational queen/ mysthic figues. Both historical and other worldly,
- Fall collection: classic, technique and skill based, not as much of a prominent theme
- Not much said back stage – in the moment,
- What vibe does her collection give off?
- Unique approach,not minimalist
- Perpetuating fairy tails into dresses women will actually wear
- Seems as if these dresses can only exist in fantasy
- Dresses not in paris, takes months to create, expensive but beautiful, eccentric
- Very detailed
- January dress: egg shapes, structures, heels (gothic churches), her dresses made the final walk
- January dress raised bar
Next was my interview with Allison McNearney. I found her through a New York Times Style article. I reached out to her with this email.
Dear Ms. McNearney,
My name is Elaine and I am a Grade 9 in British Colombia, Canada. I am writing this email to ask for an interview with you.
I would like to interview you for one of my projects, the eminent project. I was instructed to find someone that was eminent to me. I chose Guo Pei because she is a Chinese fashion courtier and I am of Chinese descent. I feel that she represents Chinese fashion very well and her work intrigues me. I want to interview you because I was looking for some primary sources. I want to interview you because I saw that you wrote a New York Times Style Article on her https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/t-magazine/fashion/guo-pei-scad-show.html.
We can do our interview through email. I will be asking some questions about Guo Pei’s work, her inspiration, how she got to the place she is at now, and how you feel about her work. There will be around ten questions and you can reply whenever is convenient for you, however this project is due on November, 19, 2017.
You can contact me at 778-886-3369, as well as by email, email@example.com. If you have further questions about this assignment or any concerns, feel free to contact my teacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you in advance for responding to this email. I hope I am able to interview you and have a wonderful day!
She responded and said that she was happy to do the interview. However, we could only do our interview through email. This benefited because I could get a very detailed transcript from Ms. McNearney. However, she answered specifically to the questions meaning there wasn’t much of a conversation. This was still a great source of information, she answered the questions very thoroughly and detailed, giving me lots of insight on her opinion on Guo Pei. Once she replied to my email, I sent her the set of questions I wanted her to answer and I got a reply within 24 hours.
Here is a snippet transcript of her answers.
- What vibe does Guo Pei’s work give off?
When I first took in the exhibition space in the Atlanta museum at the Savannah College of Art and Design where Guo Pei’s work was being shown, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of wonder and joy. Her work is a riot of bright colors, elaborate embellishments, and inventive shapes and designs that you can’t help but feel delight when seeing. But when you get beyond the initial impact of a roomful of her imaginative couture, you start to realize how much work went into constructing each piece. All of her garments are so intricately made, from the shaping of the silhouette to the meticulous hand-stitching of each design of embroidery. And if you know her work, you know there is tons of embroidery, beading, and other artisanal elements that are all completed by hand in her atelier. It’s almost overwhelming to think about this meticulous craftsmanship combined with her incredibly original eye for design. And then Guo Pei begins speaking about her work and a whole new layer of appreciation is added. She clearly finds pleasure in telling the stories behind her designs and she has an explanation, a story, or a meaning for every decision she’s made and every look she’s produced.
- As Guo Pei told me, she is “not lacking any inspiration…I just need to put them to work and realize them.” From listening to her speak about her designs, it seems that she gets inspiration from everywhere. Some of it is very fantastical and imaginative–she has ideas about dreamlike worlds she wants to bring to life. For her 2010 blue and white porcelain gown, she was directly inspired by the traditional Chinese porcelain, but in the really incredible draping of the gown, she was also imaging fashion as architecture and how a dress achieves a shape and structure of its own. For a gold dress with giant shoulders and dragon embroidery, she was inspired by the year of the dragon in which she made the dress, but she also imagined the crystal-encrusted giant sleeves to be the caves where the dragons in her embroidery would take refuge. And then there are the more practical things she’s inspired by–royalty, marriage, and so many aspects of Chinese culture.
Through these emails, I learned how send a professional email as well as how to have a formal conversation with someone that I don’t know at all. I had to experience rejection at first but in the end, I managed to get some in-depth interviews. I also learned how to form an interesting question that was compatible with my project and the information I needed. My interviews allowed me to reach out to people who were experts in my eminent persons field or people who studied it.
I took away lots of new experiences from eminent, but in my opinion the one that will help me the most in the future is the interview portion.