Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week S/S 2016: A Somber Sunshine Meditation on Nepal at Prabal Gurung

There’s nothing we can tell you about Prabal Gurung‘s spring collection that comes near the one-page typed message the designer placed on each seat. So today along with our images from the runway we’re sharing the exact text from the Singapore-born Nepalese-American designer about the earthquake and flood in Nepal this last spring and what the region has meant for his life and work.

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All images by Jessa Carter

The show started like none other: with two minutes of chanted prayers from 24 monks in saffron and yellow robes—shades that were to be repeated amid black and white in the spare spaghetti-strap halter dresses, fringe and beading details, and softly draped architectural knits to come. On the runway, the hues and silhouettes read as sunshine, a sort of new dawn or rebirth. Later a remix of a Cure song faded into an especially melancholy version of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.”

“With visuals of destruction and despair flooding in after Nepal’s devastating earthquake, I could not help but feel that the world in which I grew up had crumbled. It seemed as though part of my identity was unraveling with it.

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I felt helpless halfway around the world, and I was compelled to do something beyond raising money for my foundation. I wanted the world to experience a glimpse of what Nepal means to me.

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Stories that have been shared sitting on a hand-carved window seat overlooking the 15th Century Royal Palace Square. Monks chanting in the juniper incense-filled monastery in which I unfailingly visit to seek refuge every time I return home. Trails of self-discovery leading to the majestic mountains through which I have trekked. These are a few of the images that raced through my mind as I sat down to sketch my Spring Collection—a collage of my memories gathered.

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Fashion has been my saviour many times in my life, but today I am reminded of two of those very special moments.

The first time—when I felt my creativity and passion being stifled in Nepal—it gave me the courage to follow my dreams and an opportunity to explore the world. It allowed me to flourish and discover myself.

The second time—when the devastating earthquake hit Nepal and I felt part of my identity dissolving—the support that the Fashion World extended to me and thousands of Nepalis back home gave us the strength to regain a sense of self, hope and optimism. The first people that rose to support were my friends and colleagues in the fashion industry. The continuous outpouring of generosity has been extremely humbling. I will be forever grateful.

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Today is about the gratitude for all the kindness.

Today is about renewed faith in the goodness of humanity.

Today is about celebration of the empathy exhibited.

Today is about prayer and blessings for each of us here to follow our passion and make a difference. With these thoughts in mind I share with you a very personal gesture of gratitude.”

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Shop: current season Prabal Gurung

—Laura Cassidy and Jessa Carter