Yellow Is Forbidden
MAD | Vancity Theatre Screening
A hit at last year’s VIFF, this is a surprisingly revealing documentary about Chinese superstar fashion designer Guo Pei, whose glittering designs are featured in a current exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery (ending Jan 20).
When Rihanna walked the red carpet at the 2015 Met Gala sporting a 25-kilo dress spun from gold and fox fur, the fashion world gawked, and a new star was born. Raised in Beijing (and still based there), Guo has become much more than a top fashion personage—being Chinese, she is both a living example of China’s rising fortunes and a political symbol, whether she wishes to be or not (she says not), of the possibilities for achievement under the Chinese regime. (It is not for nothing that Time magazine put her on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2016). Director Pïetra Brettkelly’s deep-dive chronicle of Guo as person, fashion star and emblem benefits enormously from the fact that she had full cooperation from the energetic designer. But this isn’t hagiography: the behind-the-scenes access to the preparations for Guo’s make-or-break Paris runway show, while both fascinating and tense, show the conflicted side of the fashion world and Guo’s place in it.
"Compelling and stimulating… an intimate, involving portrait… Brettkelly finds just the right sweet spot between pie-eyed flattery and sober appraisal of Guo and her methods. She’s a figure to be admired yet also reflected on. And for as much as the climactic fashion show is a jaw-dropper… it’s impressive how Brettkelly leaves you pondering some of the curious if not troubling things that lie beneath all the pomp and circumstance." Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter
"Pei makes for delightful company — you don’t need to be interested in fashion to enjoy this visual feast of a film." Francesca Rudkin, New Zealand Herald