Tribeca Film Festival Presents: “Yellow is Forbidden”

Alexis Gaskin, Staff Writer

The large trained yellow dress that Rihanna wore to the 2015 Met Gala Ball took two years and over one hundred workers to make. Guo Pei, who jokes about being the “slowest fashion designer in the business,” takes pride in the intricacies and delicate details of her work. Creating large pieces with embroidery that takes several years and hundreds of workers, Pei has made a name for herself in the fashion world due to her amazing designs and pieces that push the envelope on design.

The biographical documentary by Pietra Brettkelly, focuses on Pei and her journey to be a Haute Couture designer and recognized in the exclusive french organization, Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The film that follows Pei through several years of her journey through different locations, including China, Paris and New York, is described as a “Cinderella Story” by Brettkelly, when in reality Pei is a very wealthy designer who is able to afford her luxuries and to create intricate collections that take 2.5 years because of her husband’s financial help and the sales from her ready to wear stock.

While Pei does show the resilience of someone who won’t stop until she has succeeded, the awkward scenes of her arguing with her factory workers and assistant depicts a woman who truly only cares for her designs. Not very relatable to the “Cinderella Story” or those watching, Pei is seen in scenes from Paris Fashion week arguing with contractors about holding her show in a church and making her models wear clothing and headwear that is legally too heavy for someone to carry.

Her fashion show continues without a glitch and she wows the audience and fashion show attendees with her amazing cathedral inspired collection. Throughout the film you see Pei being honored by TIME’s magazine as one of Time’s 2016 100 Most Influential People, a guest member of the Haute Couture Chamber, a successful fashion display in Paris and a successful fashion show during Paris Fashion Week.

Pei’s disconnect from the audience may be in part of the awkward direction by Brettkelly. Using an omniscient directorial style, Brettkelly stays behind the camera for most of the film, except for a scene where Brettkelly is in the home of Pei and they’re chatting about her financial backings of the collections, which Pei answers is her husband. Brett Kelly’s documentary has no real timeline of events and seems to jump around a lot from different happenings and confuses the viewer.

A particular scene that shows Pei waiting for a meeting with the Haute Couture Chamber, depicts Pei and her husband standing in a waiting room for five minutes of real time film. With strange camera angles and inclusion of non important scenes, Brett Kelly’s directing is nothing to write home about it actually makes the storyline boring.

Following Pei through her journey to haute couture is a boring recount of her life and is nothing spectacular, if there’s one thing that is interesting to watch, it’s the way the models balance the 22 pound headpieces on their heads without falling. While Pei embraces her culture in her art and shows her resilience and hard work, you can’t help but not care for her as a person.