Fashion Designer Prabal Gurung Explains How He Finds Fulfillment Through Art

He recalls how his spring 2018 collection explored female empowerment and self-expression.

Prostock-studio / Shutterfly
Prostock-studio / Shutterfly

What is a moment but an amalgam of memories? What is the present but a culmination of the past? What is the future but a mirrored reflection of history? 

The inspiration for Spring 2018 began with a dream, yet we were wide awake. We were dreamers bringing a group of memories to life with our eyes and minds open. Prior to designing this collection, I visited the “Dreamers Awake” exhibition at the White Cube gallery in London, which showcased surrealist art from the female perspective by brilliant talents like Julie Curtiss, Caitlin Keogh, and Kiki Smith. I was immediately struck by the way these modern artists reclaimed the concept of the female gaze. By repossessing ownership over the fragmented body, their artwork has become a vehicle for irony, resistance, and self-creation, depicting a woman as a strong, sentient, and thinking being. I left thinking that now more than ever is a time for the woman to take ownership over her body to portray her own beauty as she sees fit. 

Reveling in my own dreamlike state, I engaged in a spiritual memory, returning to my vibrant and colorful childhood in Nepal. I was reminded of the visual history of my country, rooted in prayer flags whispering in the wind as their messages and spiritual meaning soar. I continued on to another fantastic memory of a recent trip
to the Tasaki pearl farm in Nagasaki, Japan, with a vision of the Ama, diving mermaids. With strength and determination, these mystical beings plunge into the depths, often clad in no more than fisherman-plaid bottoms, focused and breathless on their quest to unearth beauty. Reflecting on their depiction in history felt dreamlike— somewhere between the real and the hypnagogic. 

In the surrealist world we presented on the runway, beauty takes on multiple meanings: It is soft, sensual, provocative, elegant, unsettling, foreign, discomforting, different. It is a Victorian corset through a modern lens, a chiffon dress that billows, leaving little to the imagination. The disheveled delicacy of threads as they come undone. It is the contradictory juxtaposition of the most feminine of florals beside the tough synthetic-coated trench. It is the de-genderization of color—be it pink, azul, lemon, or seagrass. It is recalling the fearlessness and strength of a woman despite a hyperfeminine appearance; here, the traditional codes of femininity are, as they ever were, powerful. 

This season, we also debuted our Tasaki Atelier collection on the runway, as I had recently been named creative director of the Tokyo-based high-end jewelry brand. Handcrafted with unique organic curves and graphic lines rendered in white and sakura-gold and accented by effervescent diamonds and pearls brightened with hues
of azul, citron, and coral sapphires, we take you on the journey of our inquisition for treasure through the mys- tical sea. Anchor and rope motifs that I saw at the pearl farm ground the collection back in tradition and reality, reminding us of our roots, our heritage, and the story of creation. 

My collection painted a bright, colorful, and sometimes contradictory world that we hope to one day live in. It is a world that is free of bias, free of hate, free of prejudice. Simply put, it is a world where humanity reigns. We cannot dream of anything more beautiful.

Excerpted from Prabal Gurung by Prabal Gurung with permission from the author and publisher.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving. 

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Fashion and Female Empowerment: 6 Icons Setting an Example

by Caitlin Purvis

Is 2018 really going to be the year of sustainability for the fashion industry?

by Sustainable Lifestyle
The Thrive Global Questionnaire//

How Fashion Designer Prabal Gurung Is Helping Provide Masks to Hospitals In Need

by Prabal Gurung
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.