Couturier Guo Pei Wows With Her Alternate Universe Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe

Couturier Guo Pei unveiled her Alternate Universe Couture Collection for Fall Winter 2019/20, marking the finale of the Haute Couture shows for Paris Fashion Week. If memorable was the way they wanted to close the event, they chose the right collection. Surreal and sumptuous, simultaneously dark and light, the impressively crafted extravagance of Guo Pei’s presentation was breathtaking.

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

The Beijing-based designer is best known (to those outside China) for Rihanna’s mass-Instagrammed, history-making ensemble worn to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 Gala.

Redefining the concept of elegance, these aren’t just gowns, they are art. And not the kind of wearable art your kooky 7th grade teacher sported, but the kind that deserves permanent display in a museum.

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection
The collection debuted under the glass dome of the Cour Vitree hall.
Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection
Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Rich, three-dimensional embroideries in gold, silver, black, and blue loaded with animals and insects and coded with symbols of life and death embellished ecclesiastical robes, Elizabethan ruffs, renaissance-inspired gowns, bell-shaped dresses, pencil and Marie Antoinette pannier skirts.

image courtesy of
image courtesy of
embroidered couture
image courtesy of

One of the dresses even featured a 3D spectacled monkey playing with marionettes.
guo pei alternate universe

The neutral looking sheer fabrics upon which Guo Pei has added her sumptuous handiwork is made from Pineapple hemp. In existence for over 400 years, it’s extracted from the leaf fiber of pineapple plants, and put through seven manual processes for her creations.

neutral looking sheer fabrics are made from pineapple hemp
The neutral looking sheer fabrics are made from pineapple hemp

Crows, which in folklore and various cultures have long been depicted as ominous creatures, messengers between the realms of the living and the dead or as harbingers of death and misery, figure prominently in Gui Pei’s Alternate Universe Couture collection both in the hair styling and as elements in the gowns.

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

The symbolic birds also set the stage for the show, perched on dark branches that arched over the catwalk in the Beaux-Arts de Paris:
Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

“Life and death are never just religious propositions or philosophical thoughts, it is also a domain which artists never stop exploring and expressing.” — Guo Pei

Here are our favorites from the collection, complete with close-up details:
guo pei couture

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

Guo Pei Alternate Universe Couture Collection

“When I was a child, I often though about death,” the couturier said through a translator. “Where do we go? I think a lot of people think about this.”

Couturier Guo Pei

guo pei couture

chinese couturier

guo pei klimt dress

See the full collection here

Some of the very talented folks who helped to make Guo Pei’s Alternate Universe come to life:
Hair Stylist Cristian Pignatta
Makeup artist Debbie Finnegan
Neville Hair & Beauty
MAC Cosmetics
Loreal Professional
ELSL Management

Photos by Kay-Paris Fernandes/Getty Images and courtesy of the designer and Vogue
detail images courtesy of

About Designer Guo Pei (from her website):
Guo Pei is China’s most renowned couturier. For over 20 years, she has been dressing celebrities, distinguished ladies, royalty and political elite who turn to her for show-stopping, magnificent creations when they want to look beautiful and stand out from the crowd.

Couterier Guo Pei on the catwalk in Paris

A modern messenger of her cultural heritage, Guo Pei has breathed new life into embroidery and painting traditions that date back thousands of years. Showcasing the finest of traditional Chinese craftsmanship while incorporating contemporary innovation and Western style, Guo Pei is a passionate artisan who wants to evoke people’s emotions and inspire people through her art.

In the world of Guo Pei, fabric, shape and texture resonate with meaning. Inspired by fairy tales, legends and even military history, every creation tells a story and is a canvas for artistic expression, bringing beauty, romance and the designer’s imagination to life. They tell the stories which paintings and embroidery have conveyed throughout the centuries.


Guo Pei’s lifelong passion for couture is deeply rooted in her childhood dream: an aspiration to perfection, born from the contemplation of beauty. Born in 1967, she started sewing when she was two years old, and quickly developed a passion for dressmaking. In 1986, she graduated at the top of her class from the Beijing School of Industrial Fashion Design, and spent the next 10 years designing for major manufacturers.

In 1997 she launched her own label and atelier, Rose Studio, where she has been passing on her savoir-faire to a new generation of embroiderers. Today, she employs nearly 500 skilled artisans dedicated to producing her stunning creations, some of which can take thousands of hours and up to two years to complete.

As Guo Pei’s reputation for high-quality, bespoke designs has grown, so has her influence. From daywear for successful businesswomen, to elegant gowns for the red carpet, to elaborate wedding gowns, or costumes for films, the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the annual CCTV New Year’s gala, Guo Pei is one of China’s most prolific designers.


2015 marked a major turning point for Guo Pei, when the pop singer Rihanna chose to wear one of her designs to the Met Gala, inaugurating the museum’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition, in which Guo’s works were shown. In July 2015, she held her first solo exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris; she followed that with a sold-out collaborative makeup collection with MAC. Later that year, Guo was honored to become an invited member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the chief governing body of the high-fashion industry, allowing her to show on the Paris Haute Couture Week calendar.

Guo made her Paris Haute Couture debut in January 2016, unveiling her “Courtyard” collection to wide critical acclaim. In the same year, she was also named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and one of the Business of Fashion’s 500 most influential people shaping the global fashion industry.

With a new studio on the prestigious Rue Saint Honoré in Paris, and the launch of an eponymous brand, Guo Pei, the future holds exciting possibilities.

You can see some of her spectacular past collections walk down the runway on the designer’s YouTube channel at

Follow Guo Pei on Instagram at
GUO PEI website