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Guo Pei Brings The Midas Touch To Sotheby's
She created that dress Rihanna wore at Met Gala
Art Stuff 31 Oct 2019

Chinese couturier Guo Pei is most famous for that dress Rihanna wore to the Met Gala in 2015. The sunflower yellow concoction became an instant internet sensation, dividing opinions, but definitely making a statement in a way that only RiRi could carry off.


Yellow, we could all argue, is very close to gold, and gold is the subject of an upcoming sale at Sotheby’s in London. Amongst various lots four of Guo Pei’s designs are exhibited, and another is up for bidding. During the Qing dynasty in China, gold and yellow were reserved for the emperor, and it is exactly these luxurious colours that Guo Pei uses throughout her couture creations. The Midas Sale – named after the Greek myth where King Midas, being a greedy so-and-so, thought he hit the jackpot when he asked for everything he touched to turn to gold – is all about everything GOLD. But hey, who doesn’t love gold? (No-one)

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This morning, China’s ‘Queen of Couture’ Guo Pei enchanted visitors to Sotheby’s London galleries, as she introduced her exquisite Gold Traditional Bridal dress. The very first of Guo Pei’s creations ever to be auctioned, the coveted dress will be offered with an estimate of £500,000-700,000, as the star of our forthcoming auction GOLD: The Midas Touch. The dress is on display alongside three more of the Chinese couturier’s meticulously crafted pieces, surrounded by artworks from the forthcoming sale. From a 15th Century Tibet sculpture to Princess Margaret’s @Cartier cigarette case, the sale traces the history of nature’s most bewitching creation. #GuoPeixSothebys #MidasTouch #GuoPei #London #Couture #Fashion

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Amongst lots that include photographs by Norman Parkinson and Terry O’Neill of golden girls Naomi Campbell and Jerry Hall, are sculptures, medieval manuscripts and fine jewellery. There are also a number of pieces specially selected by Guo Pei herself, including a pair of multi-gem golden horse heads made by Herbert Haseltine in 1949 for American socialite Barbara Hutton, a former wife of Hollywood actor Cary Grant.

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Tomorrow is your last chance to view our Gold: The Midas Touch exhibition in our New Bond Street galleries ahead of the sale on Tuesday. Amongst the highlights are two gold and gem set horse heads by the French American sculptor #HerbertHaseltine. It was in India that Haseltine started work on ‘Indra’ and ‘Lakshmi’, modelled after the Maharaja’s favourite stallion and mare. Drawing on 17th and 18th century Indian miniature paintings for the decorative elements of bridle, collar and plumes, Haseltine initially pared back these heads, the first versions executed in bronze. However, he envisioned a more refined and opulent incarnation to be cast in gold and ornamented with precious stones. This was made possible with the help of a very special patron; the heiress Barbara Hutton. In the late 1940s, with Hutton's support, Haseltine cast his designs in 24 carat gold and adorned the heads with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Finally, the sculptures were mounted on globes of rock crystal, and crowned with carved crystal plumes. #MidasTouch #Gold #london

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In addition to all of these shimmering objects, Guo Pei’s own creation, a traditional gold bridal dress, is also up for sale. Her very first dress to appear at auction is estimated to sell for between $620,000 and $870,000 and shimmers from every angle. Made over five years, the gown has been hand-sewn in gold thread using 30 stitching techniques and incorporates Chinese symbolism to express blessings to a couple about to be wed.


The gown takes centre-stage within Sotheby’s London showroom, where the artworks struggle to shout for attention. For Guo Pei, couture is a form of art, and if anyone has the “Midas Touch” it has to be Guo Pei herself.
 
Text Lizzy Vartanian

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