Kiwi director Pietra Brettkelly takes us into the opulent world of show-stopping Chinese designer Guo Pei as she prepares to make her Paris debut and seeks admission into the exclusive club of haute couture.
Chinese designer Guo Pei made fashion headlines around the world when Rihanna wore her massive canary yellow gown to the Met Gala in 2015. Typically of Guo Pei, it was intricately embroidered and bejewelled, the product of years rather than months of work – an opulent one-off, likely only ever to be worn on a catwalk or red carpet.
How did the daughter of a communist soldier and primary school teacher, educated, as she informs a bemused Western press at ‘No 2 Light Industry School, Beijing’, become the designer of choice to China’s one percent, positioning herself for global significance? We are taken into her world as she seeks acceptance from Paris’ Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Her irresistible force may have met an immovable object.
Kiwi director Pietra Brettkelly has consistently excelled as an enthralled yet keenly perceptive observer of highly driven individuals. In Guo Pei she meets a subject fit for the times. The contemporary hankering for imperial grandeur may never have looked more insanely magnificent than in Guo Pei’s world of wearable arts. Its roots in suppression, aptly alluded to in the film’s title, are astutely observed in Brettkelly’s fascinating, gorgeous film.
“Compelling and stimulating… an intimate, involving portrait of Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei.” — Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter