Remember the name Guo Pei! She is the name behind one of the most famous creations ever worn by our local super star Rihanna.
The colour represented Chinese royalty; the outfit, weighing in at a staggering 55 pounds (25 kilograms), was made of 24-karat-gold thread and fox fur that transformed it into a spectacular imperial cape measuring four metres long, in train on the red carpet of the 2015 Met Gala in the United States, where the theme of the night was: China, Through The Looking Glass.
Rihanna famously required several helpers to carry it on her shoulders! It was luxury at its highest design; it was the result of China’s first couture and luxury fashion designer Guo Pei’s extravagant Chinese-Barbados connection.
Guo Pei had been designing in China for over 30 years, before she was thrust into the western world’s limelight with recognition of the name Rihanna. Today, Guo runs an opulent three- storey studio in Beijing where customers regularly spend $75 000 to $300 000 on her creations at private showings. The married mother of two employs nearly 500 skilled artisans and has made her way onto Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list.
She has come to symbolise a new China as a force in international fashion in the same way that Rihanna, from this small rock - Barbados, has come to symbolise a powerhouse in the music and business world.
It’s a perfect example of real-life experience of a blend of fashion and culture between the two countries surpassing any barriers. But China’s entry into Barbados and becoming one of the dominating trading partners, and as a non-English speaking country, is remarkable.
Both Barbados and China recognise the importance of strategic alliances to assist both countries in achieving developmental goals in this challenging international environment – in this case – one high fashion stitch at a time.