Prabal Gurung Goes From Calm to Backstage Party

Published February 13, 2012

ABOVE: ZOE SALDANA AND PRABAL GURUNG. PHOTO COURTESY OF KELSEY BENNETT

Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2012 show demonstrated why he is currently considered not only one of the world’s most important designers but also a truly visionary artist. What is astonishing about Gurung is how he consistently surpasses himself from season to season.Zoe Saldana and Lily Rabe looked on from the front row at Saturday’s show at the IAC Center as Gurung pulled out all the stops. Even in the hands of the most experienced designers, fall collections can sometimes devolve into a series of grim, almost interchangeable, dark wool garments. But Gurung’s imagination instead took flight in a breathtaking whirlwind of ostrich feathers, brocade, steer’s skull threadwork, cascading organza ruffles, jet beads, sequins and gold lamé (with black tulle inserts), crystal roses, patent leather jackets with fox and goat-hair sleeves, neoprene trousers, and spine harnesses. The colors evolved from black to white, with splashes of gold and electric blue.

Supermodel Joan Smalls wore a shimmering black tulle gown, embroidered with filigree cutwork, jet beads, and onyx crystals. The IMG model has lost count of how many shows she is walking in during this Fashion Week. “I never count, because then that gets me stressed out, so I just go day by day,” she said. “I was looking forward to today a lot, because Prabal is not only a talented designer, but he’s also a friend. I’m also looking forward to Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra and they are all really, really talented. So today was really exciting for me.” When she and Gurung hang out, it’s all about “laughs. We joke a lot so when we go to an event, we’re always laughing and having a good time.”

The IMG model (and her could-cut-glass cheekbones) is currently #4 ranked model in the world, based on a formula similar to that of Forbes 500, which weighs her editorial demand and advertising campaigns, which, in addition to Chanel, include Calvin Klein and Estée Lauder. Smalls said that one of the standout moments of her year was “shooting the Chanel campaign. That was groundbreaking. And working with Karl [Lagerfeld] and Carine [Roitfeld] was just a dream come true.”

Her favorite element of Gurung’s collection is “the transition from dark to light, which was so beautiful and captivating.”

Gurung told us that his vision for the stunning collection was “the pursuit of creating something new. It started with the invention of a blue rose in Japan. The rose is so banal and mediocre and all of a sudden has a covetable position because of its reinvention. For me, that’s the uncursing of the rose, which is really inspiring to me.” The evolution is from the ordinary to the extraordinary, the journey from dark to light, the permission to explore not only the ecstasy of light but grapple with the reality of darkness.

The 24 hours before his show were “actually calm,” said Gurung, “It was very organized and exciting. It’s always exciting.”