Vancouver Art Gallery presents Canadian Premiere of ‘Guo Pei: Couture Beyond’, First Fashion Exhibition in Gallery’s History

Exquisite. Theatrical. Inimitable.

Fashion Designs Become Masterworks of Art in
the Canadian Premiere of
Guo Pei: Couture Beyond

Exhibition Marks First Fashion-Focused Presentation
in Vancouver Art Gallery’s History

For the first time in its history, the Vancouver Art Gallery presents an exhibition dedicated to the art of fashion with the Canadian premiere of Guo Pei: Couture Beyond, October 13, 2018 to January 20, 2019. Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in collaboration with Atlanta’s SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, this exhibition features more than forty breathtaking designs by China’s foremost couturière.

Rife with symbolism, Guo’s avant-garde silhouettes seamlessly fuse contemporary design with pre-republic opulence. The only Chinese national designer invited to join Paris’ prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, she is revered for combining China’s rich aesthetic tradition with modern sensibilities. This includes the imperial yellow cape—constructed from fifty-five pounds of embroidered silk and featuring a five-meter train—famously worn by recording artist Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala.

Tracing the evolution of Guo’s design sensibility over ten years, Guo Pei: Couture Beyond begins with significant examples from her early collections, Samsara (2006), An Amazing Journey in a Childhood Dream (2008) and 1002 Nights (2010), with a lively installation in the Gallery’s rotunda of the collection from Guo’s 2015 MAC Cosmetics collaboration. It continues with a number of works presented in Guo’s Legend of the Dragon (2012) collection, which animates the mythical dragon motif that figures prominently in the Chinese zodiac. Guo’s critically lauded Paris Collections conclude the exhibition: shimmering metallics from Encounter (fall 2016) and ornate garments inspired by Switzerland’s Cathedral of Saint Gallen in Legend (spring 2017).

“With works by one of the fashion world’s game-changing icons, Guo Pei: Couture Beyond marks the first time the Gallery is presenting an exhibition focused on the intersection of art and fashion as a dimension of visual culture,” says Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “Guo’s pursuit of excellence is unmistakable in every stitch of her creations. Each of her designs is a masterpiece and feat of craftsmanship that will undoubtedly captivate fashion-savvy visitors and art-lovers alike in this Canadian premiere.”

About Guo Pei:
Since she began designing, Guo Pei’s work has aimed to capture the splendour of China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing Empire (1644—1912), as well as restore traditional craft practices that had been lost. Not long after graduating from Beijing School of Light Industrial Design, she launched her own label and atelier, Rose Studio in 1997, which today employs nearly 500 skilled artisans.

Guo’s accomplishments in fashion have earned her a spot on TIME Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People as well as Business of Fashion‘s 500 list. Her critical success reveals the proliferation of influential fashion practices outside of the traditional Euro-American centres of Paris, London, Milan and New York.

Guo Pei: Couture Beyond is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in collaboration with SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film and curated by Diana Freundl, Associate Curator, Asian Art and Stephanie Rebick, Associate Curator.

Public Programs for Guo Pei: Couture Beyond:

Guo Pei and Bronwyn Cosgrave in Conversation on Tuesday, October 9 at 7:00 PM at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Pacific Ballroom.  A talk with designer Guo Pei facilitated by renowned fashion journalist and best-selling author Bronwyn Cosgrave. Presented in both English and Mandarin, this event will shed light on Guo as an artist whose medium of expression is fashion while examining the designer’s oeuvre of contemporary works revitalizing long-lost traditions.

Tickets: $30 for Non-members, $27 for Members, $25 for Students/Seniors
now on sale at 

BuYun Chen on the work of Guo Pei and the globalization of Chinese Fashion on Tuesday, January 15 at 7:00 PM in Room 4 East at the Vancouver Art Gallery. For this lecture, Professor BuYun Chen draws on her knowledge as a historian of China to examine the impact of Guo Pei’s work in China and abroad. Chen currently teaches Chinese history, the history of women’s work in premodern China, and fashion in modern East Asia at Pennsylvania’s Swathmore College.

Tickets: $15 for Non-members, $12 for Members, $10 for Students/Seniors to go on sale November 2018.

For more up-to-date information on Public Programs, visit

Presented in partnership with Vancouver International Film Festival: Film Screening  of Yellow is Forbidden

New Zealand director Pietra Bretkelly’s 2018 documentary follows designer Guo Pei during her preparation for the spring/summer 2017 show at the La Conciergerie in Paris. Screenings on Sunday, October 7 at 12:45 PM at International Village Cinemas; and Wednesday, October 10 at 6:30 PM at the Vancouver Playhouse. For more information, visit:


The Vancouver Art Gallery is grateful to its Exhibition Sponsors and Supporters:

Visionary Partners for the Institute of Asian Art:
Liu Bao, Wang Ying and Liu Manzhao

Major support generously provided by:
Rosy Shang

With support from the IAA Development Committee:
Angela Bi, Gary Chen, Amelia Gao, Shawn He and Yin Qing

Additional support:
Christopher and Tara Poseley

About the Vancouver Art Gallery (
Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The Gallery’s ground-breaking exhibitions, extensive public programs, and emphasis on advancing scholarship all focus on historical and contemporary art from British Columbia and around the world. Special attention is paid to the accomplishments of Indigenous artists, as well as to the arts of the Asia Pacific region—through the Institute of Asian Art that the Gallery founded in 2014. The Gallery’s programs also explore the impacts of images in the larger sphere of visual culture, design and architecture.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is a not-for-profit organization supported by its members, individual donors, corporate funders, foundations, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is situated on traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh) peoples, and is respectful of the Indigenous stewards of the land it occupies, whose rich cultures are fundamental to artistic life in Vancouver and to the work of the Gallery.

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