The Rihanna-approved designer is presenting a collection of Marie- Antoinette-inspired haute couture gowns, as part of the inaugural NGV Triennial, writes Ros Brennan

Guo Pei only found out Rihanna was wearing that dress to the 2015 Met Gala a mere fortnight beforehand. Rihanna found the canary yellow fur-trimmed gown online and reached out to Pei's husband asking if she could wear it. Pei later admitted she barely knew anything about Rihanna at the time.

It was a series of fortuitous events that flung Pei onto the world stage with lightning-bolt speed. The same year, she was invited to show her collections on the official Paris Haute Couture Week calendar, and in July, held her first solo exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Despite this, she humbly professes that "It's not about the fame that you can gain. It's more about the responsibility you have as a designer to carry on the culture... it is my responsibility to let the world know China's tradition and past, and to give the splendour of China a new expression.'

The Beijing-based designer, who is highly respected in couture circles for her ornate, stone-embellished gowns, is bringing her entire spring/summer 2017 Legends collection to Melbourne as part of the inaugural NGV Triennial.

Chinese couturier Guo Pei brings her glittering gowns Down Under

Taking cues from Marie Antoinette, the opulent range oozes luxury with no detail spared, featuring radiant woven gold fabrics, dense layers of embroidered colour, swells of beaded semi-precious stones, boned balloon sleeves and vast skirt volumes that marry European silks with traditional Chinese design heritage. A visually rich, decadent tribute to the ill-fated Queen of France, to describe this collection as over-the-top would be an understatement.

Alongside the ceremonial splendour of Guo Pei's entire Legend collection, the NGV Triennial will present a snapshot of international contemporary art, including more than fifty artists, designers and architects at the forefront of their fields.

Highlights from the NGV Triennial will be a number of world-premiere NGV-led commissions, including a major new participatory work by Yayoi Kusama (Japan), in which visitors will 'obliterate' a room with flowers; a 15.8m long reclining Buddha sculpture adorned with 3D scanned and cast replicas of classical Greco-Roman sculptures by Xu

Zhen (China), and a project by 'smell designer' Sissel Tolaas (Norway), in which she will recreate the scents of Melbourne.

NGV Triennial opens on December 15, 2017. More info: ngv.vic.gov.au

Chinese couturier Guo Pei brings her glittering gowns Down Under