Feminism, Cardi B, and Blunt Smoke at Prabal Gurung

Or, Independent Women Two Ways

Like others at NYFW, Prabal Gurung’s collection had a feminist bent. We’ve seen so much of this already this season, and it’s only just started. It makes a lot of sense. Especially when men are designing clothes for women (which could be a whole essay in itself) but suffice to say, in a world where, along with other marginalized groups, women’s rights are being challenged, it makes sense that men with businesses reliant on women would do what they can to support them. Last February, Gurung sent a finale of models in t-shirts with feminist slogans. This season, the messaging wasn’t quite so literal, but he took his inspiration from both a Chinese matriarchal society, the Mosuo, and a group of Indian feminist activists, the Gulabi Gang. There were sand mandalas on the runway too—a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of colored sand sculptures. All these influences were chicly realized—the pink saris of the Gulabi Gang, traditional Chinese-inspired cuts and floral patterns, and a lot of Mongolian sheep’s fur. It all came together cohesively and Gurung’s innovative inclusion of activewear—track jackets sewn to patterned silk or feathered skirts—was fabulous. We did expect a bit more size diversity on his runway—Ashley Graham alone does not a size-diverse runway make—but it was something, I guess. Also of note, the smoke that rose above us as the finale walked. It was blunt smoke—I could tell by the smell—and someone called out Cardi B as the culprit. Was she even there? I wondered. And on cue, she appeared out of the cloud. In Gurung’s world, strong women can really do what they want.

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