Guo Pei’s Arabian 1002th Night: a theatrical & spellbinding spectacle

Chinese couture designer Guo Pei unveiled a fantasy land where mystical creatures and royalty from ages past roamed in sky high platforms - welcome to the Arabian 1002th Night.

One Thousand and One Nights have spawned many classic stories like those revolving around Aladdin and Sinbad and kept children entertained before bedtime for years. These tales have even enraptured grownups like Chinese couturier Guo Pei - forming the inspiration for her Arabian 1002th Night collection.

The Guo Pei show was the finale for the second Asian Couture night of Fashion Week 2013 and scheduled last October 16 for 9pm. However, the designer's insistence for perfection - that extended to the hair and makeup of the models - led to a delay of more than 90 minutes. The wait had contributed to the heightened expectations of those present and in true Guo Pei fashion, the designer didn't disappoint. In fact, the venue was blown away by the heightened performance.

Performance? Yes, we do mean performance. The Arabian 1002th Night unfolded like the fairy tale it was based on. A dramatic overture played as the first model was revealed - ornate gold appliques were hand-stitched onto the leotard and also a 3-D bolero that was made of many origami folds. Besides Arabic influence, some touches like the gold headpiece and necklace, and baroque pattern were distinctively Oriental and Western respectively. Yet this was a creature that lived in the future - the bolero could pass off as a jetpack and also the taller-than-six-inches platform shoes and flare leg of the leotard were something Ziggy Stardust would have wore.

Guo Pei had whisked her guests off to a faraway fantasy land. Each look was greeted with a collective gasp. Exaggerated harem pants; a lotus flower made of the same origami accordian folds seen in the first look; impossibly detailed footwear; elaborate headgear and sparkles and metallic bling as far as the eye could see - the eye just didn't know where to look at first. It was a good thing that the models inched their way down the runway in those shoes, swaying slightly like the leaning tower of Pisa, so everyone had ample time to take in the entire look from head to toe and then back up to the top again. Those models and Guo Pei's team of seamtresses were the unsung heroes of the night.

After the first few mystical looks had their moment in the spotlight - one Thai princess-inspired that included the winged crown headdress and pointy shoes, elevated of course - there came a procession. A Japanese geisha princess was accompanied by three companions, the male models also wore platform clogs. There was a festival mood in the air as she very slowly proceeded.

This set the mood for the following characters that were loosely based on royals from history and Guo Pei's imagination. An impressive layered dress that moved like a walking Ming porcelain vase - the fan-shaped headpiece actually featured one such vase in the middle. This was also the same dress that Miss China wore at the 2012 Miss Universe contest and won the "Best National Dress" title.

Mary, Queen of Scots also made an appearance in a skirt the size of a table and a train to match, we suspect that there were rollers attached to the heavy skirt so that it could be mobile. The second last “Royal” was eerily beautiful. An Ice Queen - perhaps from the land of Narnia - with two male companions on each side of her robe that her arms held out like banners. From the crown that looked like a genuine royal jewel, to the detailed embroidery on the robe to every leaf-shaped sequined on the gown, this was an absolute couture masterpiece.

The standing ovation that Guo Pei, who appeared positively diminutive next to the towering models, was well deserved but one wonders just how does a designer top such a spectacle off?

The Guo Pei show took place on October 16 2013 at the Singapore Fashion Week 2013. For more information on Fashion Week 2013 and schedule of shows, go to


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