SYDNEY — Five weeks after shuttering its record-breaking Christian Dior retrospective — which drew 276,034 visitors in 14 weeks — Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria is unveiling its latest fashion project: a large-scale installation of the work of Guo Pei.
Featuring the Chinese couturier’s spring 2017 “Legend” collection, the 3,875-square-foot installation is one of 22 world premier works created for the Triennial, a free exhibition that runs from Friday through April 15 and showcases the work of more than 100 artists and designers from 32 countries.
Inspired by the Baroque murals of Switzerland’s UNESCO World Heritage listed St. Gallen Cathedral, Guo Pei’s heavily embellished collection features fabrics developed with Switzerland’s Jakob Schlaepfer.
The installation’s most spectacular space features a multimedia recreation of the cathedral’s dome.
“Part of the ambition of this particular Triennial is to introduce audiences to new work,” NGV curator of fashion and textiles Paola Di Trocchio said. “Guo Pei has been practicing for 30 years, [but] her work has only really relatively recently hit the international stage. She was admitted to the Chambre Syndicale in 2015, so again there’s this change in the way that fashion is being represented and we wanted to represent that change, too.”
Other new works include an installation of 100 supersized skulls from Australian hyper-realist sculptor Ron Mueck; a 16 meter reclining Buddha from China’s Xu Zhen; new work from Japan’s Yayoi Kusama, and a fully immersive digital installation from Tokyo design collective TeamLab.
The Triennial is Pei’s second concurrent international exhibition — a 10-year retrospective of her work is showing at Atlanta’s Savannah College of Art and Design campus.
“Now that my works are being exhibited worldwide, these are great opportunities for people to understand better the real Chinese couture craftsmanship” said Pei, whose collections feature the work of as many as 500 Chinese artisans.
“Twenty years ago it was almost impossible to find a professional embroiderer in China, so I went to the countrysides to handpick the talents one by one and gathered them here at Rose Studio — it took me 10 years to build the ‘army’ that I have today,” Pei said.
She added, “It has been merely 30 years since the economic reforms took place in China. While we do not have a long history in the development of modern art and fashion, I do believe that as a country with more than 5,000 years of history, our rich culture and strong artistic roots will soon be the focus for luxury embellishment.”