‘Solitude is the biggest luxury’

Designer Prabal Gurung opens up on his love for the arts and Indian women 

Prabal Gurung with Ceclia Morelli Parekh 

When a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 last year, Prabal Gurung marshalled quickly, using his social media prowess to call for donations. Since then, about a million dollars have been raised for the quake’s victims by the Shikshya Foundation Nepal, on the board of which the designer sits. The foundation also aims to bring education to girls in Nepal, seeking to turn them into a critical mass of leaders.
“Whether you have an audience of one or a hundred or a million – it doesn’t matter, I just want to divert all the attention coming my way to be able to give it to someone, who really needs it. It makes what I do worthwhile. Doing everything for yourself or ego is just not enough. That has given me a new-found meaning and love for my work. Fashion, which is considered so frivolous, has allowed me to do it, I’m very happy about that,” says the designer, who makes his Indian retail foray by debuting his Spring Summer 2017 line exclusively at Le Mill store in Mumbai this month.
I meet him at the chic Colaba store and he apologises for being late because of the traffic. Warm, smiling and affable – he breaks the ice right off the bat, when he says, “I’m all yours!”
Art inclination 

Laxman Shreshtha reimagined by Prabal in his SS 16 line

His Spring 2016 collection had its roots in Nepal. The work of artist Laxman Shreshtha, who Gurung said he grew up studying, became a jacquard on skin-baring evening separates, the orange and yellow Holi powder hues of which formed the show’s warm, lit-from-within palette.
He shares, “I am an avid art follower. I love contemporary arts in America and worldwide and I just love it. That’s one of the thing I hope to get to see. I was just passing by Jehangir Art Gallery and it reminded me of the time. It allowed me to really escape. I am a big art follower whenever I have time, New York is the best place to be when it comes to art.”

Stint at NIFT Mumbai
“How women dress here – this part of the world, it’s very graceful but there’s whole sensuality to it – what is hidden and what is not and what is revealed. There’s a certain ritualistic ceremonial aspect to dressing up which I love about it. Whether you’re dressing for yourself or dressing for others – there’s beauty to it and time taken to it and I love that. The colours, the textures, everything – it’s a big part of who I’m. It’s my heritage. I grew up in India. It’s a huge part of how I design and how I look at things. For my brand there’s always exoticism, mystery and grace, elegance of it with the practicality of New York – those are the two pillars of the brand which function for us. It has really shaped up who I’m.”
Mountain inspiration

Himalayan landscape prints reimagined by Prabal

Time and again his collections have gloried thanks to his stunning re-imagining of the Himalayan landscape prints. “It’s my comfort place. where I find my place, for me solitude is the biggest luxury right now. I crave those. The best solitude that I find when I’m up in the mountains. It always takes me back home.”

Other interests
Nightlife is a big part of who Prabal is. “I enjoy to release my energy and letting it loose, chill, hang out and have fun. Nightlife is a big part of New York. I’m very selective about it now.” Besides, the partying he enjoys following art, working out and meditation.

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