Director Pietra Brettkelly / 2018 / New Zealand

Veteran documentarian Pietra Brettkelly spins a contemporary haute couture Cinderella tale from the story of China’s Guo Pei – the designer behind the famed yellow dress worn by Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala.

That dress won Guo Pei international attention. It was sweet vindication for the Chinese couturier, who’d grown up in the Cultural Revolution when Mao suits were the only acceptable fashions, embroidery was ‘feudal’, and her beloved grandmother told her to forget about yellow dresses. Today, Guo is the first Chinese designer accepted into the exclusive Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

In Yellow is Forbidden, Pietra Brettkelly (A Flickering Truth, MIFF 2016; Maori Boy Genius, MIFF 2012) follows Guo’s preparations for her debut Paris collection, Legend – which was exhibited at the recent NGV Triennial. Brettkelly and Guo don’t share a language; but they both strive for professional respect in a world that doesn’t value craft, and the resulting film is especially striking for the innocence, humility and quiet determination of its subject amid the luxury fetishism that dominates the elite world of haute couture.

"I’ve tried to use traditional skills to touch people, to move their minds and souls, to let them feel that they are really beautiful, rare and precious." – Guo Pei

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