Yellow is Forbidden
Yellow is Forbidden is a modern-day Cinderella, where the diminutive and daring Guo Pei’s dream of being selected into the exclusive yet savage world of haute couture doesn’t end at the ball. The film weaves global power dynamics and the opposition between art and commerce with a hankering for oppressive imperial grandeur.
Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Chanel, Dior Gaultier….
It is perhaps the most exclusive club in the world.
21. Mostly men. European.
Now there may be another name added to that list.
Guo Pei grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution, born into a world of uniforms, propaganda
films, and no access to the world beyond the limited arts, literature and news of what the party
allowed. Communism. The daughter of a military father whose charitable instincts made the family give away their food coupons to those less fortunate, and a blind mother who relied on her daughter from the age of two to thread her needles as she made the family’s clothes.
Her upbringing did not have any of the privileges or exposure to suggest Guo Pei was on her way to international fame.
From a country with the world’s largest population, Guo Pei is China’s only haute couture designer, with one of her pieces taking 50,000 painstaking hours to complete. Her 500 workers toil away with age-old embroidery techniques; all pieces, in the tradition of haute couture, are hand-made.
And impossible to wear. “The piece Rihanna wore weighs 50lbs” Guo Pei giggles. It gives her a
thrill to create these extraordinary works that she believes honour the female form but also
challenge it, as the wearer teeters on Guo Pei’s- designed towering shoes.
China’s designer darling, Guo Pei, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of
2016, is determined to be recognised amongst the rarefied few who can call themselves Haute Couture designers.
YELLOW IS FORBIDDEN is an unprecedented story taking the viewer inside the world where Guo Pei creates magic… A 50kg dress so heavy they have to consider a gymnast not a model to walk the runway…. A gown spun by 300 embroiderers… Precious gold material printed with centuries-old Swiss fresco… All from a woman who learnt her craft at Number 2 Light Industrial School after the reign of Mao Tse Tung and is now launching internationally at Paris Haute Couture Fashion week.
2018: Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, Sydney Film Festival, NZIFF, Melbourne International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Dunedin NZ Festival, Shanghai, Heartland International Film Festival, USA, Guangzhou Documentary Film Festival 2022: Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco