10 Questions for Prabal Gurung
Few fashion collectors can claim to own an early-era item from the likes of Valentino, Saint Laurent or Alexander McQueen, which is why we’re excited to introduce you to the newest member of the soon-to-be-iconic: Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung.
Now is the time to invest in this burgeoning wunderkind. Launched just four years ago, Gurung’s namesake brand has appeared in the wardrobes of everyone from Michelle Obama to Lady Gaga—a testament to his balance of timeless femininity and boundary-pushing concepts. We sat down with the New Yorker to discuss his new collection, killer camera phone skills and personal heroes.
You grew up in Nepal. How does this affect your work today?
The depth and diversity of Nepalese culture and history and the richness of color, fragrance, art and religion all play an enormous part in my creativity. Nepal has been featured in the story behind many of my collections.
We loved following your recent trip to Nepal on Instagram. What’s the secret to taking such good camera phone photos?
I’m not sure I have any particular secret. I’m just a very visual person and try to capture things the way I see them.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your spring collection.
It’s based on the idea of this elegant woman who’s always been a source of intrigue and inspiration for me—ensuring that her elegance remains preserved and presented in a modern context. I became transfixed by Bert Stern’s ‘Last Sitting’ with Marilyn Monroe—they way he played with curves, transparency and skin is one of the most melancholic expressions of the female form. I wanted to take this representation and give it complete modern-day relevance.
How do you balance innovation in your designs while also keeping them wearable and elegant?
Each season, I look to bring innovative techniques to classic and signature silhouettes, through everything from experimenting with fabrics to graphic detailing.
Prints are a big part of your work. What’s your process like for designing them?
We work with excellent print designers in Europe to develop custom prints based on the inspiration for each season. We also experiment with multiple colorways and scales before sending the final concept to the mill for printing. The placement of a print is paramount to the design—it must remain in keeping with the precision of the tailoring, so the process is always exciting yet challenging.
What’s a typical outfit for you personally?
A white tee and jeans.
Judging from your Instagram photos, you’re in excellent shape. What’s your diet and exercise regimen like?
It is really important, especially when living in New York, to take the time to have balance in your life. I make sure that I work out regularly and make healthy dietary choices—at least as often as possible!
You have a section on your website highlighting inspiring women. How do you pick your Monday Muses?
They’re picked very selectively. The series is inspired by women who we feel have a great deal of substance. We work in an industry so focused on appearance and materials that, to me, the ultimate attribute is to have something to say. Our muses are talented, intelligent, determined and focused women.
Do you have any heroes?
Certainly. I have many people I find inspiring, but if I had to name one hero, it would be my mother. She’s been my greatest supporter from the beginning and never once stopped believing in me. I admire her independence, strength and determination more than anything.
Tell us about your work with the Shikshya Foundation Nepal.
Over the next 10 years, we aim to provide at least 300 underprivileged children with a sound education while addressing their financial, social and emotional needs. We currently have more than 60 children in the program, and it’s only growing.