Following his 10-day Vipassana retreat in his serene homeland, Nepalese fashion designer Prabal Gurung, has channeled the concept of ‘impermanence’ into his designs for the New York Fashion Week. In a backstage interview, he has asserted the fact that nothing is really constant- “In Nepal, we talk about it all the time, what is present and how soon it can go”.
Anichya – The Art of Impermanence
Soft drapes and sharp angles went hand in hand, all the while challenging the concept of harmony in his couture. Wool jackets and gliding skirts, studded by flashy crystals and golds – the diversity and the ensuing asymmetry was made evident in every minute detail.
The Buddhist concept of “anichya” found expression in the butterfly motifs in hues of vermillion, burgundy, saffron and a variety of dusty pinks that swept the ramp, as the American-Nepalese designer reflected back to the influence of his Nepalese roots. He cites credit to the motivation borne out of the 10-day meditative experience he underwent, to “silence everything”, away from the hustle – no phones, exercise or even reading.
Gurung allegedly wanted to recreate on ramp, the tranquil he experienced under starlit nights back home in Nepal – “Even if I could give them 15-20 minutes of that, what I felt was kind of an escape”. He says that he wanted to create the kind of space and composure that he had experienced, for his models too. As a result, he describes the New York Fashion Week as a journey that could be called magical and mysterious.
The Nepalese Serenity
Oversized shoulders, a myriad of embellishments, crop tops – combined with Gurung’s signature juxtaposition of draping and tailoring, stole the show. He says that the “inward spiritual journey” he took back at home has given a moody yet hopeful element to his creations in turquoise and emerald silk organza, butterfly prints in a high-low, high-neck dress in black and white, as well as another in sheer red and black with seductive cuts at the hip, teamed with black leather cropped jackets sporting pink shearling collars.
Reportedly, Gurung traces back these inspirations to the painted lady butterfly that landed on his window on the third day of the retreat and got him contemplating, pondering into the deep. In an iconic expression of traditional Nepalese culture, models walked the ramp flaunting dark, solid vermilion marks on their forehead – ‘sindoor’ as worn by Nepalese women to symbolize marital consummation.
An Alignment of Stars on Array
The New York Public Library stood witness to the fashion week, heavily tinged by the creator’s native influences. The entire ramp setup – the mirrored square runway reflecting an opulent blue light display enhanced the sleek couture range while keeping the audience mesmerized to the core. Gurung says, “There’s light after darkness” ; he alludes to finding hope ‘in the dark places’.
The audience was composed of trailblazers across the fashion scene. Gurung’s friends who love to tag themselves ‘slaysians’ – all marked their presence at the week. Kimora Lee Simmons and her daughters, famous singer Becky G, Alyah Chanelle Scott were among some of the notable names. Kelsea Ballerini, who had worn Gurung – a stunning yellow ensemble at the Grammys, also graced the occasion. Gurung states that he seeks to embrace the notion of constant change without fearing the imminent need to make ‘shifts’, as times and trends demand.
Expressing while experimenting seemed to be the essence of the range that lined the ramp this season and as the designer himself said, he’d got all the clothes right for the job at hand.