R&B star Rihanna’s red carpet-winning Met Gala dress in 2015 isn’t something you’d forget easily.
You probably saw epic images of Rihanna on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art … all decked out in an imperial yellow, fur-trimmed cape embroidered with scrolls of flora, with a headdress to complete the flamboyant deal.
The dress was designed by Guo Pei, China’s first haute couture designer.
Now you can get up-close and personal with it at an exhibit in Singapore.
The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore, in a collaboration with Guo Pei, presents a showcase that examines the relevance and impact of Chinese art, and how Chinese aesthetics and traditions are being reimagined for the world today.
The Guo Pei: Chinese Art And Couture exhibition, displayed at ACM’s Special Exhibitions gallery, juxtaposes 20 Chinese art pieces from the museum’s collection and 29 dresses by Guo Pei.
“Guo Pei: Chinese Art And Couture is significant to our visitors for two reasons. It is our first special exhibition dedicated to fashion and is representative of our shift to the contemporary domain. Every masterpiece in the exhibition is a unique blend of contemporary and traditional design, material and craft,” says Kennie Ting, director of Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum.
“Second, the exhibition has been designed to give visitors a simple and visually arresting overview of Chinese art history – imperial art, export art, and folk art. We wanted a show that would introduce visitors to aspects of Chinese art – materials like silk and porcelain, the craft of embroidery, motifs like peonies and phoenixes – in a completely unexpected and, hopefully, very memorable fashion.”
The exhibition begins with a dramatic display of Yellow Queen, the iconic cape worn by Rihanna to the 2015 Met Gala. A symbol of Guo Pei’s breakthrough to an international market, the dress also represents a moment in time when the world encountered and engaged – through countless reactions, conversations, and memes – with a masterwork inspired by China.
The main exhibition space features three sections. In Gold Is The Colour Of My Soul, Guo Pei’s signature yellow and gold works reflect the historical significance of colour, techniques, and materials strongly associated with imperial China.
Through China And The World, Guo Pei’s hybrid designs parallel Chinese export art in blending Chinese imagery creatively with Western silhouettes and tailoring.
In Treasured Heirlooms: Chinese Bridal Dress, Guo Pei’s works continue and modernise traditional Chinese bridal style, with strong Peranakan connections.