The Guo Pei Chinoiserie Collection
Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy at the Legion of Honor celebrates the extraordinary designs of Guo Pei—hailed as China’s premier couturier. The exhibition includes more than 80 of her most important works from the past two decades, highlighting collections shown on Beijing and Paris runways. Through exquisite craftsmanship, lavish embroidery, and unconventional dressmaking techniques, Guo Pei creates a fantasy world of fashion, fusing influences ranging from China’s imperial past and export art to European architecture and the botanical world. In honor of the exhibition, the Museum Stores have developed a collection of chinoiserie products inspired by Guo Pei’s designs.
Guo Pei’s work frequently explores China’s artistic practices as a way of acknowledging the loss of traditional craft in her country. As part of the exhibition, a special presentation in Legion of Honor’s Gallery 1 juxtaposes the museum’s collection of Chinese export art and European chinoiserie objects, including a tapestry, vases, and a tea set, with the Porcelain dress from Guo Pei’s 1002 Nights (2010) collection.Chinoiserie is a 17th- and 18th-century Western interior design style consisting of fanciful European interpretations of Chinese styles. As a contemporary designer, Guo Pei consciously engages with and subverts the concepts of chinoiserie and export art, taking these traditions and making them her own.
Installation of Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy at the Legion of Honor museum image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Photo: Gary Sexton
The Chinoiserie collection developed by the Museum Stores was inspired by Guo Pei’s illustrious Porcelain dress. Starting In the summer of 2021, the product development team began working with Guo Pei and her studio to create the exclusive collection. The studio provided various designs from the designer's 1002 Nights collection and eventually, three were selected for the product collection. The assortment includes personal accessories, such as a bamboo-handle tote bag, wristlet, and compact mirror, as well as a unisex shirt with an all-over print.
The highlight of the collection is a suite of three porcelain vases featuring the designs provided by Guo Pei’s studio. Showcasing the signature designs from the 1002 Nights collection, the vases feature distinctive details, such as ribbon, dragon, and peony motifs and flourishes selected to work with each vase’s specific shape. The Chinoiserie vase collection pays homage to blue-and-white ceramics, one of China’s most enduring and imitated products, and brings Guo Pei’s designs full circle, back to their original inspiration and form.Made in China and crafted from fine porcelain printed with hand-painted flourishes, each of these stunning, limited-edition table pieces is complemented by a beautiful blue silk presentation box.
The Museum Stores were delighted and honored to work in collaboration with Guo Pei and her studio to commission this exclusive Chinoiserie collection. The collection presents Guo Pei as an artist as well as a storyteller, pushing the limits of fantasy and creativity with her unique and stunning designs. Guo Pei says: “As a creator and artist, there is no greater honor or privilege than to share my creativity with a wider audience. . . . I hope that it will bring greater awareness and understanding of my life’s passion, and convey Chinese culture, traditions, [and] the new face of contemporary China.”