Inspired by the unique wildlife and warm tropical grassland of the African savanna, Guo Pei’s Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2020-2021 is a collection that exudes elegance and magnificence and makes one stop and look hard in awe.
Called Savannah, this 17-piece collection is a reflection of the Chinese Queen of Couture’s realisations during the pandemic and how she has imagined and longed for the experience of paradise. In an interview with the Style Visionary Network, Pei shared, “The pandemic has changed many people and things, and has also given us a new understanding of the value of life and the meaning of existence.”
The designer who also had the opportunity to design Rihanna’s 2015 Met gala look, added, “When we were chained at home, we discovered that we were so longing for the endless green of Savannah, and when death came time and time again, we discovered that the animal’s rushing posture was so pleasant. The beauty of life inspires our courage to face disasters; the awe of nature allows us to live with it in a more humble attitude. The maintenance of life and nature is thinking about the future of mankind.”
Indeed Savannah is a well-contemplated creative interpretation of the richness of life as seen in the harmonious albeit a diverse mix of plants and the animals thriving in the African grasslands. In the collection, you can see the presence of the most energetic and powerful animals in the savanna–elephants, cheetahs, zebras, and giraffes through felts, hand stitches, and embroidery.
Using the colour red and blue, Pei conveyed the real essence of life or, in her words, the “vitality and rhythm of life”, with red representing the arteries and blue, the veins. Of course, she also added some elements that remind us of modern life. The artist said, “Neutral colours such as elephant gray and white represent the modern city and the future full of unknowns, conveying the interaction between fashion and nature, and some thinking about the future of fashion.”
Developing her fall collection was a totally different creative process, compared to how she conceptualised her previous designs. During the COVID-19 quarantine period, she was stuck in Paris until April–fresh from her last show in January–which allowed her to reconnect with her inner artist, her family, and even her friends in the industry.
Nevertheless, the pandemic and limited movement did not stop her from getting the best materials to convey her story through her new collection. In fact, Guo Pei was able to research pioneering eco-friendly fabrics, leading her to find piñatex that she used in many of her pieces. She shared, “Piñatex fabrics are inspired by abundant natural resources and traditional weaving techniques, made by extracting plant fibers from pineapple leaves. It is a substitute for natural leather and an exploration of sustainable fashion. I was moved to find materials that are eco-friendly. I’d researched online and found a wide range of eco-friendly fabrics, I even saw some textiles made of mushrooms. There are so many people who are interested in pioneering sustainable fashion and I think that’s really inspiring.”
The lack of a physical show may have been totally unconventional for the Savannah collection launch, but this constraint didn’t stop Pei from showing to the world her lovely pieces through virtual presentation at the recently held first session of Digital Fashion Week Conversations by Singapore-based Digital Fashion Week.
If you want to be wowed by the brilliant take of the savanna by Guo Pei, check out this video below.