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Designer Guo Pei named Blue Cloud honoree

By CHINA DAILY in New York ( Updated: 2016-09-30 09:44

The name Guo Pei attracted little press among the Western fashion crowd, until pop star Rihanna wore her "poached egg" gown to the Met Ball in New York last year.

Now, 30 years after entering the fashion industry as China's homegrown high-end designer, Guo has been propelled into global fashion fame.

On Tuesday, New York-based China Institute hosted the Blue Cloud Gala in celebration of its 90th anniversary. Guo was one of the honorees.

The moment she walked into the hall, you saw her creativity – a simple black dress with handcrafted golden dragon embroidery over the shoulders. Similar designs by Guo were featured at January's Paris Couture Week, where she presented her collection to the world as the first Chinese guest member of the Chambre de Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

Guo started her speech at China Institute with a smile.

"English, little little," she said, and switched to Chinese. Mandarin is still her only spoken language. Her art speaks it too.

Guo Pei's sumptuous fashion expression is rooted in Chinese culture. She recreates images from traditional imperial court design and renders its hallmarks with exotic Western silhouettes. She believes it is her responsibility to convey a "China value" through her work.

"I am a product of changing China," said Guo. "I appreciate our culture and want the whole world to see it."

Guo's loyalty to her country, both as a citizen and an artist, is easily identifiable. She has often been chosen to dress stars at state-sponsored events, like the Beijing Olympics and the New Year's Gala.

Yet looking back at her career, Guo said that the most exciting moment was when two of her dresses went on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the 2015 spring Costume Institute show, China: Through the Looking Glass.

"I couldn't sleep for days," she said. "They are reflections of the pride I have for Chinese culture. The honor belongs to China."

Guo is always confident that real aesthetic resonates. Though fashion in China is still nascent in her eye, Guo sees a bright future in the next generation of designers from China.

"Fashion design is not a job, or a career," she said. "It's the choice of a lifetime. So my advice to young Chinese designers is to slow down. Don't panic. Don't be afraid to wait for the right moment to come."

Xiaotian Zhang in New York contributed to this story.

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