One of Guo Pei’s most iconic pieces, Da Jin, 2005, helped launch the designer’s international career and marked the birth of Chinese couture. Here are 10 things to know about the inspiration behind the dress, what went into making it, and its presentation at the Legion of Honor in Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy.
1. The piece’s title, Da Jin (Magnificent Gold), is fitting, as the entire surface is embroidered with gold thread from India.
2. The garment took 2 years to complete.
3. Guo Pei and her team spent over 50,000 hours on its construction.
4. Da Jin was the grand finale look at Guo Pei’s first full couture runway show, Samsara (Life Cycle), in 2006.
5. It was inspired by both a gold-embroidered military uniform worn by Napoleon Bonaparte at the Musée de l'Armée in Paris and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.
6. The dress represents the sun and the rebirth of China after the Cultural Revolution.
7. The piece is made up of 29 individual vertical panels with a repeating lotus pattern.
8. Da Jin is grand in scale, measuring more than 11½ ft long by 9 ft wide.
9. The accompanying headdress, choker, and cuff bracelets are made of copper and covered in Swarovski crystals and rhinestones.
10. Because of its size, Da Jin had to be put together directly in the gallery at the Legion of Honor and took 11 people to install.
For more on this stunning piece, watch Deep Dive: Guo Pei’s Da Jin Dress:
Text by Magnolia Molcan, web managing editor.
Learn more about Da Jin and Guo Pei’s other extraordinary creations at Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy, on view at the Legion of Honor from April 16 through September 5, 2022.