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New York

Prabal Gurung

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

New York

Prabal Gurung

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

New York

BY Katharine K. Zarrella

February 13, 2017

• Earlier this month, a report emerged alleging that POTUS 45—the protest of whom is becoming a centerpiece of NYFW—wanted his female staffers “dress like women.”

 • Obviously, backlash ensued because, come on, man. It’s 2017. Dress like a woman? What the hell does that even mean?

• That question was the starting point for Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2017 collection. “Femininity has not one definition,” he wrote in his show notes. “Today, I bring to you the women who inspire me—those made of strength, inner beauty, graceful femininity, and vigilance. We are awake, alive, and inspired to celebrate women from all walks of life. This is the time to speak our conviction and use our voices to invoke change. This is the upside of the downside.”

• Uplifting, no?

• Now, this being a fashion show and all, the primary goal of which is to sell clothing to a specific client base, Gurung tailored his answer to, well, the Prabal Gurung woman. To be sure, the designer’s Fall looks seemed a far cry from those of the astronauts, supreme court judges, athletes, and soldiers whose images were posted on social media with the hashtag #dresslikeawoman to protest the President’s reported misogynistic comments. But Gurung’s wares projected a strength and individuality that embodied the sentiment of that campaign. 

• Specifically, Gurung was inspired by American and Nepali (for those who might not know, Gurung is Nepali himself) wartime women of the 1940s. “These women are workers, mothers, fighters, and sisters who understood that one minority’s downfall is equivalent to the demise of all humanity.”

• With a mashup of girl power anthems like “Respect” and “You Don’t Own Me” blaring in the background, models stomped out in warm, oversized, double-faced wool outerwear. The opening cream parka—worn with taupe trousers by Bella Hadid—boasted fantastic hand-embroidered braiding. This piece was at once practical, utilitarian, and scrumptiously luxurious. 

• Knitwear was a strong focus here, the best of which came in the form of chunky cashmere sweaters embellished with cloud-like tubular piping. 

• An ivory twill crepe pantsuit was cut with fluid bell sleeves—a detail carried over from Pre-Fall that proves power and femininity are not mutually exclusive. 

• Color was injected into the largely neutral collection by way of floral prints and intarsia furs, as well as through a handful of canary yellow, steel blue, and blood red looks—a velvet, bell-sleeved dress in the latter shade was a real standout.

• Two ruffled ensembles—a lemon dress and a blue silk blouse-and-trousers outfit—didn’t feel as assertive as the rest of Gurung’s offerings, and probably could have been cut.

• However, the three sheer finale gowns—all of which were hand-embroidered with over 220,000 crystals—conjured a modern-day Joan of Arc. 

• The casting deserves a shoutout, too—it was nice to see curvy models like Candice Huffine on Gurung’s runway.

• But what earned the designer a standing ovation were the slogan t-shirts the models wore during their final lap. Assertions like “The future is female,” “Revolution has no borders,” “Our minds, our bodies, our power,” and “We will not be silenced” were writ large on black or white tees. Oh, and there was one that read “Yes, we should all be feminists…” with a parenthetical footnote thanking feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, the latter of whom famously sent a similar tee with that phrase (which came from an essay by Adichie) down the runway during her Spring 2017 Dior debut. 

• Gurung took his bow in a white shirt emblazoned with “This is what a feminist looks like.”

• There will likely be skeptics who cry out against the commodification of feminism. But Gurung’s showing felt genuine. I mean, his Spring 2017 collection was covered in quotes from Gloria Steinem, and his Pre-Fall outing also had feminist undertones—celebrating and empowering women is not new territory for him. Furthermore, the world is currently watching the NYFW runways—why wouldn’t designers use their time in the spotlight to speak out? As one of those finale tees suggested, “Now more than ever” we must make our voices heard. 

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