Prabal Gurung, the New York designer from Nepal, is best known for his bold color combinations and elegant silhouettes. He dresses style influencers from Demi Moore to Michelle Obama.
We sat down with him at Neapolitan boutique in Winnetka, Ill., to talk about creating a luxury brand with soul, his ideas on modern glamour and how he stays connected to his homeland.
Q: Tell me about your spring collection?
A: When I started working on my spring collection, the intention was never to be political; it was actually a completely different story. Then the 2015 Nepal earthquake happened. I couldn’t get those images out of my head. At that point, Nepal, where I’m from, became my inspiration.
I just owed it to myself to highlight Nepal and bring it to the forefront. For me, it was very much a cathartic experience, to bring to light what was far more important than just clothes. That’s why I started my spring show with 15 monks chanting a prayer of gratitude. I also wanted to give a glimpse to the world of where I’m from and why I am the way I am. So I made a decision to base the collection on what I had seen and how I grew up — all the bold colors of saffron and yellow. The Nepalese artist Laxman Shreshtha inspired the prints.
I’d say the spring collection was the perfect blend of East meets West.
Q: Who is the Prabal Gurung woman? Whom are you designing for?
A: She really enjoys being a woman and embraces all that comes with it. She doesn’t need to dress down in order for her to be taken seriously. She’s very assured and feels empowered.
Q: How important is social media to you?
A: I remember when I started (using) Twitter, it was after my first collection, fall 2009, and Demi Moore had worn something, which she tweeted about.
A friend told me about it, and my first tweet was thanking her. Immediately afterward, I got 500 followers. That’s when I realized something big was happening. I just felt like, I’m a new designer with not a massive amount of money to invest into PR or marketing. So this was my perfect opportunity, and I grabbed it.
I use Twitter and Instagram, but for different reasons. Twitter, for me, is for breaking news, and Instagram is all about the visual.
Q: Three pieces that a woman should have in her summer wardrobe?
A: Invest in the perfect summer dress, a special blouse and a great knit.
Whether the dress is long or short, you want something that shows off your beautiful skin. Accessorize it with a wedge and an amazing pair of earrings.
In terms of blouses, most people wear T-shirts all the time, so it should be flirty, feminine and fun, with a lot of movement. Something that you can dress up or dress down. I’d pair it with some jeans and Grecian sandals.
With your knit, you want a lightweight cashmere, perfect for a cool summer’s evenings. Pair it with linen pants or shorts; there is something casually chic and sexy about knits.
A FEW OF PARABAL GARUNG’S FAVORITE THINGS
Sneakers: The new Saint Laurent black high tops — I wear them all the time.
American city: New York — there is nothing like it. It challenges you, makes you question everything and excites you. More than anything, it makes you feel alive!
Way to get inspired: I think by being curious. My collections have been based around ideas that have come from my curiosity of art, music or books.
Luxury splurge: A Tesla. I’m really fascinated by it, and if I were to buy a car, it would be that one. After Apple products, it is one of the best inventions.
Color: I love red because it requires such a confidence to wear it, and I find it really sensual.
Personal uniform: Black, white and navy. A white T-shirt and jeans for every day because, while I’m working, I need to be comfortable.
Best band ever: There are so many! My music taste ranges from the Beatles to Stevie Nicks to Rihanna. But if I had to pick, it would be the Rolling Stones.
Way to rebel: Just do your own thing, continue to do what you want to do. I don’t believe in rebelling; I believe in quietly, assuredly, confidently walking your path. I always follow my own rules.
Currently reading: “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s about four friends living in New York.
Thing that everyone should try once: Singing at a bar full of strangers.
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