by Wang Lili
SINGAPORE, June 13 (Xinhua) -- When Chinese couturiere Guo Pei was amazed and inspired by the traditional bridal clothes put on show by the Singapore Peranakan Museum in Paris in 2010, she could hardly imagine that she would be able to bring her works to the Singapore audiences one day.
She shared her story on Wednesday in a media preview of the exhibition named Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture, to be put on Singapore's Asian Civilizations Museum (ACM) from June 15 to Sept. 15.
The show, according to director of the ACM and Peranakan (which generally refers to people of mixed Chinese and Southeast Asian heritages) Museum Kennie Ting, is ACM's first show on fashion which also marks its first step in shifting into the contemporary domain.
Guo was invited to join the renowned Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, a French federation which groups the world's famous clothing brands, as a guest member in 2016 in recognition of her talent. She said that her success lies in her ability to learn from different cultures and design on a global arena.
While acknowledging that the Chinese elements such as the dragons, phoenixes and ceramics which she uses a lot in her designs are something in her blood, she also pointed out that it is hard for her to tell the nature of her designs which she believes belong to the entire human beings.
Besides the exhibits from the Peranakan museum, she said she had also been inspired by the wardrobes put on display in the Army Museum in Paris, drawing inspirations from the worldwide brands as well as from the culture of the Chinese ethnic minorities.
Together with the 29 dresses designed by Guo, ACM has carefully chosen 20 Chinese art pieces that match the dresses to be displayed in two galleries. Each pairing shows the best of Chinese traditional craftsmanship as well as modern couture techniques in the expression of creativity and storytelling.
Ting noted that Guo's works are good examples of reinterpreting the tradition with contemporary art. "Every masterpiece in the exhibition is a unique blend of contemporary and traditional design, material and craft," he said.
ACM looks at the connection between different Asian cultures historically and in the present day, while the Peranakans themselves is the combinations of different cultures as they are like "tissues to absorb different cultures," according to Ting.
While Guo's designs are good examples of cross-culture combination to give birth to new innovations, different civilizations continue to influence and interact with each other today, and the exhibition also enhances people-to-people exchanges between Singapore and China, he added.
The show, which also heralds the museum's Season of Chinese Art, is divided into three parts, namely the imperial art, export art, and folk art.
The exhibition begins with a dramatic display of Yellow Queen, the iconic cape worn by Rihanna to the 2015 Met Gala, which is a symbol of Guo's breakthrough to an international market.
The main exhibition space features three sections. In "Gold is the Color of my Soul", Guo's signature yellow and gold works reflect the historical significance of color, techniques, and materials strongly associated with imperial China.
Through "China and the World", Guo's hybrid designs parallel Chinese export art in blending Chinese imagery creatively with Western silhouettes and tailoring.
In "Treasured Heirlooms: Chinese Bridal Dress," Guo's works modernize traditional Chinese bridal style, with strong Peranakan connections; and they have been worn by Chinese actresses today on their wedding days including Angelababy and Liu Shishi.