A visual feast, a heartfelt memoir, and a striking catalogue of Gurung’s inspirational achievements.
This stunning first monograph by fashion designer for the stars, Prabal Gurung, is a work of art in itself and a display book to be proud of.
From attending the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi and New York’s Parsons School of Design, Prabal Gurung earned his stripes at Donna Karan and Cynthia Rowley before moving on to be the Design Director at Bill Blass. He launched his own label in February 2009, celebrating ten successful and extraordinary years in 2019.
With strong influence from his Nepali heritage and the mother he idolises, Gurung has introduced bold, daring and colourful couture fashion that has earned him a client list that includes Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Cambridge and Michelle Obama. His focus on female empowerment and activism also opens up his design lines to include ready-to-wear collections for all women.
At more than 270 pages, Prabal Gurung is a self-reflecting celebration of these first 10 years of designing his own label. Introduced by Sarah Jessica Parker, and including an interview transcript with magazine editor and novelist Hanya Yanagihara, Gurung walks us through each season and collection, outlining his inspirations, motivations and thoughts. He interprets the designs, showing sketches, branding and mood boards, along with stunning colour images of catwalks, events and photoshoots (see the image gallery below).
Gurung’s “Femininity with bite” mantra has embraced the power of femininity while maintaining its sheik and fashionable edge. Collections have bridge the gap between sleek American sportswear and the brilliance of Nepali colours (Spring 2011), and paid homage to unsung heroines like women in the military and the female warriors of the Asgarda tribe in the Ukraine (Armored Elegance, Fall 2013).
By far, the collection to garner the greatest international attention, particularly on social media, would have to be the 2017 launch of a series of t-shirts bearing empowering slogans in support of the women’s movement, including “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”, “Stay woke”, “Yes, we should all be feminists…”, “Love is love”, “I am a Malala” and “Girls just want to have fundamental rights”. The t-shirts raised money for three non-profits and is an example of Gurung’s commitment towards humanitarianism.
He openly talks of his upbringing of being bullied at school and being mesmerised by the care his mother took in preparing her appearance. From these early times grew his commitment to feminine power and the need to fight for equality, acceptance and fairness. He was mobilised in 2015 after the devastating Nepal earthquake with its epicentre in Barpak in the Gorkha District of the country – the traditional homeland of the Gurung ethnic group. After raising over a million dollars in aid, he went on to begin his own charitable foundation in Nepal and was inspired that year to continue bringing forth the colours and textures of Nepal in his spring collection, The Himalayan Trek.
These personal stories provide insight into the heart and mind of a compassionate, socially aware and ethically responsible designer who uses his talent to speak out and support the issues that are dear to him. Prabal Gurung’s designs are seen from the cover of magazines and Fashion Week catwalks, to the clothing racks of Target. With the launch of his own line of footwear in 2015 with six styles named after the women who inspired him, and the Lane Bryant capsule collection featuring size-inclusive options in November 2016, Gurung’s legacy continues to grow.
His first monograph, edited by Sarah Massey and featuring a full page of photographer credits, is a visual feast, a heartfelt memoir, and a striking catalogue of Gurung’s inspirational achievements.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis