Guo Pei is the first designer to have a look presented in a Disney park as an offering for an event or a celebration.
Guo Pei with Mickey and Minnie Mouse in her designs.
PHOTO COURTESY DISNEY
Mickey and Minnie Mouse will be wearing couture-worthy costumes created by designer Guo Pei for the Lunar New Year.
In what is a first for any designer, Guo Pei will be suiting up the actual characters for a limited time at Shanghai Disney Resort and Disney California Adventure Park, which is adjacent to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., during the Spring Festival. Disney’s most famous mice will be wearing Guo Pei’s striking and heavily embroidered costumes to greet guests from Lunar New Year Day on Saturday through the end of the Lantern Festival until February 9 in Shanghai. Red and gold lanterns will be suspended to signal where the pair are along Mickey Avenue. At the Anaheim park, Guo Pei’s new costumes will be worn starting today and running through February 9.
Resortgoers looking for more than a memory of Guo Pei’s Disney-fied costumes will be able to buy limited-run merchandise from the designer. A Mickey and Minnie plush toy that will be sold as a unit, and a Lunar New Year pin will be sold at the Shanghai theme park. At Disney California Adventure Park, guests can purchase a collaborative $37 women’s T-shirt or a $15 Lunar New Year red envelope set, which are customary holders for monetary gifts during the holidays in Chinese and certain Asian cultures.
The project got rolling last May and it has been “going full steam” since October, according to Trevor Rush, costume design and development manager at Disneyland, who traveled to Beijing and Shanghai to work with Pei’s team. “For the people, who do know Guo Pei and her work, the design itself stands out as something that would be signature to her with the embroidery detail and all of the other elements,” he said.
The “Guo Pei: Couture Beyond” exhibition at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., last year piqued Disney executives’ interest in the designer. Rush said, “With it being the Year of the Mouse, we were looking for an opportunity to present Mickey and Minnie in a new way. Guo Pei stood out as the front-runner because of her being the premier couture designer out of China.”
Guo Pei is the only Chinese member and the first Asian member of La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris. Some residents in China may know her name from being among the six fashion designers to participate in the first Jinan in Style International Fashion Week in November. Hosted by the Jinan Municipal Government and the Asian Couture Federation, the event also served as the official opening of the Jinan International Fashion Creative Center located in the Shandong province of China.The inaugural fashion week marked the first couture fashion week hosted by the ACF in China. And “Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture,” debuted last summer at the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.
Guo Pei is the first designer to have a look presented in the park as an offering for an event or a celebration, Rush said. The Asian Couture Federation helped get things off the ground and served as the conduit between the designer’s team and Disney. “The relationship has really blossomed in the last six to eight months so there’s potential for future opportunity. I know they’re definitely interested in working with us again. We’re interested in working with them, but at this time, we haven’t laid out any plans for the future,” Rush said.
The Disney alliance might seem mainstream for such a detailed-minded designer, whose team once spent five years finessing a gold-threaded wedding dress. But Guo Pei has proven that she has global appeal. Through a partnership with Sotheby’s, that signals the auction house’s increasing appreciation for haute couture, Guo Pei auctioned some of her couture gowns at Sotheby’s last fall. Aligning with Disney will help Guo Pei introduce her talents to thousands of consumers — even though her Disney designs will have a limited run. The Shanghai theme park attracted 11.8 million people in 2018, and Disneyland, which includes the Disney California Adventure Park, pulled in 18. 6 million guests in 2018, according to Statista.
Earlier this month Gucci developed a capsule collection featuring Mickey Mouse in advance of the Chinese New Year. The women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, footwear, small leather goods, scarves, jewelry and timepieces mix the Florentine fashion house’s signature motifs with the image of the renowned cartoon character. Coach, Olympia Le-Tan and Christian Siriano are among Disney’s previous fashion collaborators.