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Imagining the West: European-Style Textiles and Dress at the 18th-Century Qing Court

June 29, 2022, 5:00 pm
couture gown with two models wearing one dress

Guo Pei, Alternate Universe, Fall–Winter 2019–2020. © Xu LIAN photography, courtesy Guo Pei.

Virtual Event

During the 18th century, the emperors of the Qing dynasty in China were surrounded by European and European-inspired objects and images in the palaces. In a way similar to European chinoiserie, romanticized visions and representations of the West helped construct the universal identity of the Qing rulers. Focusing on Western silks, tapestries, and imaginary costumes at the Qing court, this talk highlights the two-directional cultural exchanges and mutual admirations between China and Europe. 

Watch on YouTube

About the Speaker

Dr. Mei Mei Rado is associate curator of costume and textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). She received her MA from the University of Chicago and PhD from Bard Graduate Center. She specializes in textiles and dress of both China and France from the 18th to the early 20th century, with a focus on transcultural exchanges. Prior to joining LACMA, she held research and curatorial positions at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, the textile and costume division at the Palace Museum in Beijing, and the department of European sculpture and decorative arts at the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dr. Rado has published widely in academic journals and edited volumes. Her research has been supported by organizations including the American Council of Learned Society and the Society of Antiquaries of London. Her forthcoming book is titled The Empire’s New Cloth: Western Textiles at the Eighteenth Century Qing Court.

About the Exhibition

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy celebrates the extraordinary designs of Guo Pei—hailed as China's first couturier—and includes more than 80 works from the past two decades highlighting her most important collections shown on Beijing and Paris runways. Through exquisite craftsmanship, lavish embroidery, and unconventional dressmaking techniques, Guo Pei creates a fantasy that fuses the influences of China’s imperial past, decorative arts, European architecture, and the botanical world. Through her extraordinary fashions, the exhibition reveals the trajectory of Guo Pei’s career as remarkable yet emblematic of China’s emergence as a leader in the fashion world in the early 21st century.

This event is part of Virtual Wednesdays, a weekly YouTube broadcast bringing you unique viewpoints exploring diversity, resilience, and creative spirit in the arts as we aim to reframe our exhibitions and collections. View past and upcoming Virtual Wednesdays programs.

Ticket Information

This is a free online event. No registration required.


Contact Information

Public Programs
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(415) 750-7694