A new era of couture is upon us. Chinese designers of haute couture are increasingly making a name for themselves among fashion circles and society elites around the world. Aspiring to establish a distinct identity for modern Chinese women, these couturiers represent a benchmark in Chinese craftsmanship and style pivotal in developing the country’s rapidly growing fashion scene.
Dubbed ‘China’s Queen of Couture’ with three decades of experience under her belt, Guo Pei is no newcomer to the fashion world. She first made international headlines when Rihanna donned her 25kg, four-metre-long gold silk gown to the red carpet of the Met Gala in 2015 — a dress that racked up over 50,000 hours worth of hand-woven embroidery for its creation.
The home-grown designer graduated top of her class from the Beijing School of Industrial Fashion Design in 1986 and spent a decade working for major manufacturers before launching her atelier, Rose Studio, in 1997. Since then, Guo’s been breaking barriers around the world: she was the first Chinese designer to create outfits for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the first Asian member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Now a regular at couture week in Paris, Guo’s honed a craft for exuberant designs – inspired by the legends and fairy tales of her cultural heritage – that combine the finest of traditional Chinese craftsmanship with contemporary innovation. Due to her signature use of gold, she’s set to collaborate with auction house Sotheby’s in October to curate the second edition of its Gold: The Midas Touch sale in London.
Designer Grace Chen boasts a clientele of celebrities and political elites, including Oprah Winfrey, China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan and Princess Olga Andreevna Romanoff of Russia. Hailed the power dresser of China, she’s one of the first Chinese designers to graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1996. After 15 years of working in America, with stints at Halston and Shoji Tadashi, Chen returned to Shanghai in 2009 to establish her own couture house in the historic Former French Concession. She’s made international runways in cities from Monaco to Moscow, even showing in Brussels to mark the celebration of the 40th anniversary of China-European Union relations in 2015. Chen’s on a mission to “spread the image of a modern Chinese style for the world”, with a traditionally romantic design aesthetic and an emphasis on design techniques that incorporate Chinese knots and tassels inspired by the essence of ‘Chi’. Most recently in February, she hosted a private show onboard the Qatar Executive G650 Private Jet as part of the 2019 Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition.
Atelier By Fang
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Yang Fang of Atelier By Fang has been creating ready-to-wear and couture lines in her Shanghai-based three-story atelier since 2013. Born in China, she studied fashion at ESMOD in Paris before returning home to establish her fashion house and was invited by Swarovski in 2015 to join the first Asia Swarovski Collective, the same talent program that revealed Alexander McQueen in 1999. Inspired by the current generation of self-made, independent Chinese women, Fang has gained global recognition for Asian handcrafted elements and fine tailoring in her Sino-French designs. Traditional origami techniques were the focus of her first couture presentation in Paris for Autumn/Winter 2019, with Fang sending silk organza flower creations down the runway.