(Photo: myvancity.ca)

The creative genius behind Rihanna’s 2015 Met Gala look

Chinese couture designer, Geo Pei, is known best for styling Rihanna for the 2015 Met Gala for the yellow dress coat with one of the longest trains ever seen made of silk and fur. Pei thinks of couture as a form of artistic expression rather than creating garments that are made to sell, Pei treats her garments as pieces of art.

Pei says couture doesn’t focus on reflecting or representing reality but focuses on creating pieces through artistic expression expressing emotions and understanding of the world.

Pei was raised during the Cultural Revolution in China in which a lot of traditional objects were destroyed saying that her grandmother was forced to keep her jewelry in secret and burn all her beautiful clothes. Pei’s grandmother missed all her valued possessions and would tell Pei stories about them at bedtime about how glamourous her clothes were with embroidered flowers and butterflies.

These bedtime stories told after the light went out heavily influenced Pei’s passion for fashion and inspires her designs to this day. Though Pei never saw her grandmother’s clothes, she thought of them as the most beautiful things that ever existed.

“Fantasy is the height of your spirit.” – Guo Pei

Pei emphasizes the 5,000 years of China’s history that is the essential foundation of Pei’s work with elements including totems about ancestors, phoenixes, dragons, and memories that are incorporated in Pei’s designs. Pei’s signature behind all her designs is the intricate and extraordinary embroidery, she feels that embroidery is the medium where she gets to best express herself.

Pei’s goal is to have flowers that she sews to bloom and the butterflies to fly, giving life to fabric and thread. Pei also works to make her designs not too heavy so everyone is able to wear her designs. The yellow dress coat designed for Rihanna is one of Pei’s heavier pieces featuring silk and fur that weighs 55 pounds (25 kilos).

Pei says that the heavier pieces make women feel like a queen saying, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” Though a 55 pounds dress coat sounds unique, Pei pushes to raise the bar and designed a dress that was meant for two people to wear side-by-side.


Pei loves to see the audiences’ reactions after a couture runway show saying that couture is art, taking people beyond reality. She says that her rise to fame is exciting as she doesn’t know what will happen the next day.