The Vancouver Art Gallery is showcasing couture designer, Gou Pei’s ethereal creations. Art and fashion lovers will find unexpected, contradictory themes.
- The Chinese Cultural Revolution, which shaped Pei’s anti-utilitarian approach to fashion. Pei, a child of the Cultural Revolution during which the communist state banned anything reminiscent of the imperial order and Western bourgeois influences. Pei’s Grandmother secretly told her stories of a glorious past of Chinese emperors and opulence. These stories sparked the girls’ imagination and ignited a repudiation of Maoist uniformity and drabness.
- Religious idealism; Christianity meets couture. This collection represents a rejection of the anti-religious world-view of the communist regime.
- The dichotomy between wealth and poverty evoked by creations such as the wedding dress festooned with 40,000 hand sewn pearls leads one to contemplate the possibility of sweat shops.
Body image issues emerge as one imagines women donning these costumes.
Foot binding in ancient China; Pei’s shoe designs simulate the subjugation of women. The question arises; does she find a romanticized redemption in the practice?
There is so much to consider in addition to Rhianna’s “Forbidden” yellow dress and assorted frothy frocks.
The exhibition runs at the VAG until January 20th.
Diana is a Docent in Training at the Vancouver Art Gallery