Lizzie Baur

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy
Identity System, 2022

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy at the Legion of Honor museum charts the trajectory of Guo Pei’s career as a leader in the fashion world in the early twenty-first century. Through exquisite craftsmanship, lavish embroidery, and unconventional dressmaking techniques, Guo Pei creates a fantasy that fuses the influences of China’s imperial past, decorative arts, European architecture, and the botanical world.

Guo Pei’s body of work demonstrates a vast imagination that results in great stylistic variety. Although there is no singular language that defines each collection, her vision is dominated by the notion of world-building, fantasy, and theatricality. The exhibition design was built around the premise of storytelling through simple figuration, using frames or "windows," as well as traditional techniques of light, shadow, and translucency. Additionally, there was a curatorial interest in focusing on the craft of the garments by calling attention to the range of techniques—such as origami, basketry, and elaborate embroidery.

Leaning into this prompt of highlighting the medium itself, the exhibition title lock-up was designed to behave like textiles by joining or interlocking letterforms together to create a pattern or texture. This treatment references not only the medium of textiles but also conjure up images of the garden, root structures, as well as architecture—all recurring visual motifs in Guo Pei's designs. The marketing campaign further incorporated the in gallery concept of shadow play and dimensionality by projecting light onto the word mark, creating a luminescent glow.

Typeset in Grand Slang. Installation photography by Gary Sexton.