Dressing the Only Girl in the World

Published May 6, 2015

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MAC COSMETICS.

Last night, an intimate group of fashion and beauty industry heavyweights fêted the first design collaboration between MAC Cosmetics and Guo Pei, China’s foremost couturier. If Guo Pei’s name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s perhaps because less than 24 hours prior to our meeting, Rihanna made fashion history by wearing a saffron-colored emperor’s coat of Pei’s design to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala. “[This dress] was a miracle,” the pop star shared on the night of the event. “It’s handmade and it took two years to make!”

“Rihanna won the night,” explained Guo Pei. “She’s so beautiful, and so courageous, the confidence she has is like a queen. She interpreted my dress in a completely new and interesting way, and that is her gift.”

Two of Guo Pei’s museum-quality designs are also included in the Costume Institute’s new exhibition, “China: Through the Looking Glass,” which explores “the interplay between Eastern culture and Western style.” The first, a majestic gold-embroidered, bell-shaped gown, takes up an entire gallery. The second captures the essence of a Ming vase with its endless blue and white scrolls. The construction of both garments took tens of thousands of hours to complete.

Pei has been working with MAC for over a decade, but this new collection is the first time she has collaborated with the brand on product design. “This is more like an interesting game for me, because our relationship is based on mutual understanding and respect,” the designer told us. 

As guests entered Academy Mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side last night, eight models in Candyland-colored wigs showcased intricately adorned (and never-before-seen) confections by Guo Pei. The models towered over guests, including supermodel Pat Cleveland, in Pei’s signature Lucite platform sandals. Duplicate pairs also served as centerpieces—and conversation-starters—at the seated dinner. 

“Establishing my name in America is more important now than ever before,” Guo confessed between sips of rosé. “America is a diverse nation and its culture can represent the world’s culture. If I can establish my name in America, I can be welcomed by the world.” So perhaps, then, its good omen that a former MAC Cosmetics ambassador just so happens to also be the “Only Girl in the World,” and huge fan of Guo Pei.

THE MAC GUO PEI COLLECTION WILL LAUNCH IN FALL 2015.