HANDLE WITH CARE: Karolina Kurkova, Trudie Styler, Amy Tan and Petra Nemcova showed up Friday night to honor Vivienne Tam at the first China Fashion Night gala hosted by the China Charity Beauty Fund Friday at The Pierre hotel. Chinese opera singer Hao Jiang Tian of the Metropolitan Opera performed and designer Guo Pei had her first runway show in the U.S. Her labor-intensve designs have been worn by Zhang Ziyi, Fan Bing Bing and Lady Gaga. Song Zuying wore one of her more extravagant gowns for a duet with Plácido Domingo during the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

One of Pei’s gowns that was shown Friday night was so heavy that the model who was wearing it needed to be lifted onto the runway by three men, according to one onlooker. Her presentation included a gown inspired by the stained glass domes of European churches and another adorned with several thousand “Gong Hua” silk flowers that had been made exclusively for the royal palace, after being salvaged from a deserted factory storage room and painstakingly restored with steam — an undertaking that took nearly 50,000 hours.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The aforementioned model wasn’t the only one who had wardrobe issues. Tan, who had flown in for the occasion, wound up having to wear Issey Miyake instead of the Vivienne Tam gown she had packed, due to lost luggage.

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