10 Minutes with: Prabal Gurung
December 31, 2015
Since his Spring/Summer 2010 collection launched him to stardom, Prabal Gurung has been a darling of the fashion world and a favorite of celebrities. His muse is “the thinking man’s sex symbol,” and the women who love and wear his designs certainly fit the bill. This past September, we caught up with Gurung and talked about what inspires him and lies ahead for him.
Neiman Marcus: Congratulations on not only your sensational Spring/Summer 2016 show but also the Career Achievement in Fashion Award you received from Fashion Group International Dallas!
Prabal Gurung: Thank you very much.
NM: You put a lot of value and effort into philanthropy, and you mobilized on social media to help raise over $1 million toward Nepal after the earthquake there. Can you take us back to that time and what you were thinking? Describe it and how you feel about reaching the $1 million mark.
PG: I started a foundation four years back, and it started with this. I’m from Nepal, and I’ve always wanted to do something, but when you’re in the midst of building a brand and designing, that kind of idea takes a back seat. I remember it was after my third collection, and Fashion Week Daily, during Fashion Week, came out with this cover with my picture and it said, “A Star is Born.” That was just my third collection. While I was very appreciative and grateful about it, I was very scared that I was going to fall into believing it. So I said I’m going to use myself as a platform for a cause that I’ve always believed in.
When that earthquake happened, I was in New York and I heard the news. My family was there, and I was talking to them, and I was trying to figure out what to do. So I started the Crowdrise thing, and I was hoping I would be able to raise $10,000 to $20,000. That was the goal. The minute I started, I used the social media channel, and the CFDA came on board, and the whole fashion community came on board.
NM: It’s incredible, and we can see how passionate you are when you talk about it, which is so inspiring.
PG: I’ve always been passionate about designing and making women look beautiful, but the minute I started my foundation, we started seeing the impact, and it gave me a whole new perspective. I have never been so clear about why I’m doing what I’m doing. The love that I have for design is not just about making clothes. I’ve always wanted to create a luxury brand with a soul. Now finally it’s making sense.
NM: One of the most incredible symbols that you had was the Nepalese monks to open your show. Can you tell us why that was important to you?
PG: In the midst of chaotic Fashion Week, what I wanted to do was take a moment, show everyone the culture that I’m from, and give a brief minute or two to take a moment for yourself. Often we get jaded in fashion and life itself, and it was my way of saying thank you. My whole intention was just to say thank you. That was it.
NM: During your Spring/Summer show, we had the great fortune of sitting next to one of your clients, Hilary Weldon.
PG: I’ve always believed there’s a reason why things happen in your life. So when I met this client, she told me her daughter Whitney has this “stone man” disease (fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva), and I said I would love to design something for her. I felt an absolute joy doing it, and she was so happy. It really was an incredibly gratifying moment.
NM: Hilary told us, “He made Whitney feel like a person.” To hear that was just incredible, so I hope that gratitude and that energy you put out comes back to you tenfold.
PG: Thank you very much.
NM: Changing gears a bit and looking at the Spring collection—the colors, the cuts, everything is so beautiful. Can you talk to us about key pieces and how you want a woman to feel when she wears them?
PG: I have always said this: The biggest strength for a woman comes from embracing her femininity. No longer are we living in the world where you have to dress like a man to come across as intelligent. The gift that you have to be able to embrace—fashion, design, colors, textures—is not to be taken lightly. The design philosophy whenever I’m designing is that elegant femininity with a bite. A lot of my friends say, “Oh, you put women on a high pedestal,” and I say no, I don’t. I don’t need to put them on a pedestal. I just want them eye-to-eye across a table and have a conversation because they are human beings. They are not an object, and I don’t want to treat them like that. The Spring collection was all about that.
NM: Looking forward, what can we expect?
PG: I hope to keep on growing as a designer, as a creative person, a brand—impacting and consciously doing things that makes a woman’s life easier.
NM: The holidays are right around the corner. What does that mean for you? Traditions, family—what are you looking forward to?
PG: Love, laughter, fun, drinking, gratitude and all around positivity. I do believe in goodness in people, and I think it’s one opportunity just to be like let your hair down and enjoy yourself.