Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy, drawing record audience, extended through November 27

Aug 25, 2022

Elaborate dress by Guo Pei

Installation view of Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy, Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 2022. Photograph by Drew Altizer. Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

175,000 visit the exhibition at the Legion of Honor

Drawing over 130,000 visitors in just 18 weeks, Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy is one of the Fine Arts Museums’ most sought-after fashion exhibitions of the past decade. Over 80 exquisite ensembles by China’s leading couturier and accompanying programming have enticed new and returning visitors to the Legion of Honor throughout the run of the exhibition. About ⅓ of the creations are displayed in the museum’s permanent collection galleries, highlighting the historical and iconographical references displayed in the ensembles, enabling another 45,000 visitors to experience Guo Pei’s vision. This dual nature extends the exhibition’s reach to 175,000. 

With enthusiasm and excitement around Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy growing exponentially into its final days, the Museums today announce the exhibition’s 12-week extension through November 27. 

“Our visitors’ response to Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy has been absolutely extraordinary, and we are delighted that the exhibition’s extension through Thanksgiving will enable more people to experience Guo Pei’s artistry,” remarked Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Installed in our special exhibition galleries, and amid our holdings of European Art, Guo Pei’s designs encompass rich details both infused with references to a range of cultural traditions and executed over thousands of hours. This presentation represents a singular opportunity to experience exquisite designs that invoke and encourage transcultural dialogue.”

Throughout the exhibition’s run we have welcomed numerous school groups with free admission, seniors from throughout the Bay Area community, and many first-time families and children, who filled the Legion of Honor’s Gunn Theater for a June 23 screening of Over the Moon, the Netflix animated film whose protagonist dons Guo Pei’s designs. Our thanks go to local Asian American–owned bakery Sunday Bakeshop for providing complimentary cookies and popcorn for the occasion.

By all accounts, Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy has been a runaway success—in person and online. Produced in partnership with Nowness, the exhibition film Guo Pei: Embroidered Dreams is one of the most popular to date in our award-winning FAMSF Presents series, garnering more than 185,000 direct views online and reaching audiences around the world. At the Museum Stores, audiences have brought Guo Pei’s lavish work home with more than 4,000 catalogues and 2,500 coloring books flying off the shelves. With the exhibition extension leading up to the holiday season, there is ample time to revisit the collection Guo Pei designed exclusively with the Museum Stores.

On Saturday, September 3, the host of exhibition programming engaging local artists continues with Auntie Sewing Squad: Radical Care in the Time of COVID-19. Free to the public, this program brings together the editors of The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice and SF-based documentary filmmaker Valerie Soe in a discussion of the collective’s important work producing and donating more than 350,000 cloth face masks for vulnerable communities throughout the pandemic. Soe will screen clips from her documentary in progress. We invite you to join us there.

About Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy 

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy celebrates the extraordinary designs of Guo Pei — hailed as China’s premier couturier — and includes more than 80 works from the past two decades highlighting her most important collections shown on Beijing and Paris runways. Through exquisite craftsmanship, lavish embroidery, and unconventional dressmaking techniques, Guo Pei creates a fantasy that fuses the influences of China’s imperial past, decorative arts, European architecture, and the botanical world. Through her extraordinary fashions, the exhibition reveals the trajectory of Guo Pei’s career as remarkable yet emblematic of China’s emergence as a leader in the fashion world in the early twenty-first century.

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy is curated by Jill D’Alessandro, curator in charge of costume and textile arts, and presented as part of the Fine Arts Museums’ global exhibition program in the Department of Costume and Textile Arts, highlighting extraordinary artists and movements that have changed the course of fashion history. Recent exhibitions include Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love and Contemporary Muslim Fashions.

About the artist

Guo Pei is China’s most renowned couturier. For over 20 years, she has been dressing celebrities, royalty, and political elite. Born in 1967, she started sewing at a very young age and quickly developed a passion for dressmaking. In 1986, she graduated at the top of her class from the Beijing Second Light Industry School, and she spent the next ten years designing for major manufacturers.

In 1997 she launched her own label and atelier, Rose Studio. Today she employs nearly five hundred skilled artisans dedicated to producing her stunning creations, some of which can take thousands of hours and up to two years to complete.

In 2015, Guo Pei became the second native Chinese member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the chief governing body of the high-fashion industry, allowing her to show on the Paris Haute Couture Week calendar. She made her Paris haute-couture debut in January 2016, unveiling her Courtyard collection to wide critical acclaim. In the same year, she was also named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and one of the Business of Fashion’s BoF 500, a list of the most influential people shaping the global fashion industry.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco oversee the de Young museum, located in Golden Gate Park, and the Legion of Honor, in Lincoln Park. It is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco and one of the most visited arts institutions in the United States.

The Legion of Honor was modeled after the neoclassical Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris. The museum, designed by George Applegarth, opened in 1924 on a bluff in Lincoln Park overlooking the Golden Gate. It offers unique insight into the art historical, political, and social movements of the previous 4,000 years of human history, with holdings including ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco respectfully acknowledge the Ramaytush Ohlone, the original inhabitants of what is now the San Francisco Peninsula, and acknowledge that the Greater Bay Area is the ancestral territory of the Miwok, Yokuts, Patwin, and other Ohlone. Indigenous communities have lived in and moved through this place over hundreds of generations, and Indigenous peoples from many nations make their home in this region today. Please join us in recognizing and honoring their ancestors, descendants, elders, and their communities.

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