India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
October 26, 2016

Prabal Gurung on Fashion and Philanthropy

Text by Wyanet Vaz. Image by Prateek Patel

“The moment I gained an audience, I knew that it was no longer just for me, and my ego”

At New York Fashion Week this season, the Nepalese-American designer read out Gloria Steinem’s first-person account of the women’s movement from her book My Life on the Road. The pieces in Prabal Gurung’s uplifting SS17 collection, that feature famous quotes from prominent women, make their way to India at his first trunk show at Mumbai’s luxury concept store Le Mill. In a casual conversation spanning Indian cinema and things that inspire him, Gurung revisits his love for the country, and finds himself indebted to the many opportunities that the Subcontinent has unfailingly delivered.

The rise of SS17…
“I’ve always been an advocate for women in decision-making positions which I believe would lead to a better world. I think it’s a very interesting time, for the United States and people around the world, grasping the idea of the first female American president. And while I was reading a book by Gloria Steinem, it all came together to really reinforce what I started seven-and-a-half years ago — about celebrating women who love, and are passionate about, both politics and fashion. So I decided to revolve my SS17 collection around these objectives.”

Strong point… 
“I understood the words ‘feminism’ and ‘equal rights’ through my mother, ever since I was a child. It was her uncompromising belief that even within a male-dominated society, she could run a business, have a voice, and that her opinions mattered.”

India vs the West…
“I don’t see any difference between styling women from India and those in the West, especially in current times. The essence of the girls who I dress is very similar — they are confident, glamorous, beautiful and intelligent women.”

Threads that bind… 
“My collection includes jewellery made by Nepalese artisans from back home, because I believe that once you have a platform and an audience, you should be able to leverage it for others. After all, somebody opened the door for me, and I should also leave the door open for someone else.”

Giving back…
“The moment I gained an audience, I knew that it was no longer  just for me, and my ego. I needed to divert this attention somewhere else. So that’s how Shikshya Foundation Nepal started. We began with 12 girls and today we have impacted over 2000 lives. What I realised pretty early on is that education is the key to freedom to think differently, and live authentically.”

India story…
“In Nepal, design was for bored housewives, but in India it was a career. So it really allowed me to transform my dream into reality. This country is a big part of who I am simply because it made me realise that I too, could be a designer.”

On Bollywood… 
“I grew up watching Bollywood films! They allowed me to dream, to believe that if I was really happy and euphoric, 50 back-up dancers would magically appear! It has helped me be the creative person that I am today. Some of my favourite films include Dil Chahta Hai, Kapoor & Sons, Chandni, Shree 420.”

Nostalgia factor… 
“I miss Mumbai every single day. I love this city — it’s alive, it’s crazy, all my friends are here, and it has a warm heart.”

Don’t miss a chance to meet Prabal Gurung at his trunk show at Le Mill on 26th, 27th and 28th October 2016. 

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