Prabal Gurung puts a loving spotlight on the world’s misfits

Prabal Gurung sent his New York Fashion Week models down a long, stark runway Saturday in the shadow of the United Nations wearing an explosion of sheers and colors as an ode to the misfits of the world who are “often watched and monitored, scrutinized but unseen.”

The designer told The Associated Press he discovered an industrial space in the former home of the Japanese consulate while on a bike ride on Manhattan’s East Side. He turned it into a white runway that made his revealing metallics, bondage looks and neon brights pop.

“I wanted to create a space for this particular show where we felt what we are feeling in the culture itself: Kind of unsure politically, culturally, but we still want to be hopeful, want to be optimistic,” he said. “I needed to be near the reminder of the U.N. that our job in fashion is not done until we are alert and vigilant.”

Over the last year, Gurung said, he found his hope and optimism fading as the “status quo, the patriarchy,” seemed ever more unnerved over those who resist “regressive values.”

To find some joy again, and belonging, he wrote in his show notes, he ventured into New York City’s outer boroughs, where “the style, the confidence, the nightlife and these younger generations evoked a familiar but new sense of unabashed authenticity that reignited the same fire my mother gave me as a boy.”

So how did that translate into his latest spring collection on his clean white runway?

In a fiery red mini dress. In a jet black bodysuit paired with a crinkle chiffon, hand-draped skirt. In a white corseted jumpsuit and a barely there mint blouse worn with a black leather lambskin mini skirt by Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris.

He called his misfits “my families, my tribes, my friends” whose rights are often taken advantage of. As a creative person, Gurung said, the pandemic has reaffirmed his need to tell stories rather than simply send clothes down a runway.

His story continued in a bright pink dress of hand-embroidered sequins and multicolored ostrich feathers, an acid wash denim corseted blazer and a fuchsia and black mesh goddess gown. There was a tulle gown in soft pink and black, and another in soft blue and black. There were tap shorts and a one-shoulder blouse in lilac.

His sheer cobalt blue trousers worn with an equally sheer long-sleeve blouse in chartreuse that opened to reveal a black bralette moved with the model as so many of his liquid looks did. It was most definitely a different direction for Gurung.

“Instead of just doing a regular show, I wanted to create an experience,” he told the AP. “Storytellers are healers.”

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