If one believes in the multiverse theory, it’s entirely possible that Guo Pei’s creations are just the thing to wear when stepping out for a formal occasion. Such was the premise for a collection titled “Alternate Universe” that read as a Neil Gaiman-esque mythology in which goddesses of all creeds mingle among mortals. After all, what else to conclude from a show that starts with a pair of conjoined twins appearing from under a crow-laden arch?
That the Chinese couturier kept to a predominantly cream, metallic and gray palette gave her collection a cohesiveness reminiscent of Greek statuary. And details emerged despite the profusion of embellishments.
Embroidered scenes on dresses depicted “angels and Satan sit[ting] next to each other,” “monkeys sitting on the king’s throne under the guidance of prophets,” flocks of birds and esoteric motifs in the manner of illuminated manuscripts. There was one ballgown decked out as a human puppet theater, strings held by some sort of animal. A crow was perched on the shoulder of another gown with ballooning sleeves.
The final look was a complete tableau, the model in a marigold dress framed by a green knoll of silk chiffon grass, garment and landscape bleeding into each other.
Throughout, kilometers of pineapple hemp fabric — a prized material in the Philippines, the show notes indicated — were used. Cut, beaded, layered, ruffled, embroidered, ruched, frayed: you name the technique, it was represented.
In taking her craft to such fantastic extremes, Pei shows her clients the full extent of her expression. To others, she offers a treatise on textile research and development, along with a glimpse of her considerable imagination.