Prabal Gurung

You may have already heard of him, but for those unaware, Prabal Gurung, known for his refined and sophisticated yet sexy dresses, is a popular New York-based fashion designer from Nepal. He launched his first collection in February 2009, with a presentation at the FLAG Art Foundation in Chelsea and is currently the creative director of his eponymous label. The prolific list of women he has dressed is impressive, which includes Oprah Winfrey, Zoe Saldana and Sarah Jessica Parker. However, his most revered client has to be First Lady Michelle Obama, whom he himself believes changed the course of his life as a designer.

Prabal Gurung was born in the island of Singapore and later raised here in Kathmandu. He finished high school in St. Xavier’s School where he would produce sketches in his leisure time, but it was in New Delhi, India that he truly began his career in design. There, he studied at the Institute of Fashion Technology, apprenticed at several local production and fashion houses and got to design alongside Manish Arora. He then went to Australia and London assisting stylists in various fashion shows and international publications and in 1999, accrediting it to an inspirational show on Oprah, he decided to move to New York City and follow his dream of becoming a designer.

In NYC, he interned at Donna Karan while attending Parsons The New School for Design, during which he was awarded the “Best Designer” title at the annual Parsons/FIT design competition. After that, he joined Cynthia Rowley’s design team, which was crucial in the process of his understanding of the craft and business of the highly-competitive fashion scene. Soon after, he got his big break as design director at Bill Blass. He worked five successful years and left his post thereafter to launch his own collection, PRABAL GURUNG.

His work has since garnered many awards and accolades and his clientele, vastly broadened. Stars who recently wore his collection include Lady Gaga, who donned a sculptural coat from his Fall 2012 collection, and Jennifer Lawrence, the rising star who wore a stunning gold gown from the same collection at the premier of her movie “The Hunger Games”. The first star, however, to have placed Prabal Gurung on the radar, was perhaps Zoe Saldana, whom he currently shares a friendship with, when she wore a red asymmetrical dress on the red carpet while promoting her movie “Star Trek”.

Prabal Gurung’s list of achievements include the Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award in 2010, a nomination in 2010 CFDA Swarovski Womenswear Award, being selected by fashion industry’s leaders for a highly-coveted design studio at the {CFDA Fashion Incubator} for 2010-2012, a runner-up at 2010 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund and in 2011, was honoured as one of USA Network’s twelve Character Approved Award recipients.

For the success of his career, Prabal Gurung gives credit to his roots, stating the reason he was able to stand out in a competitive city such as New York, was because of the unique place he came from. Prabal, who was also named the Goodwill Ambassador of Maiti Nepal, says he is proud of his heritage and makes it his duty to mention Nepal at every interview he does. Through his popular Twitter and Instagram accounts, he has managed to re-introduce Nepal to the world in a unique way. He also emphasises on the importance his family has had on his fashion journey, stating it could not have been made possible without their support and his mother for believing in being and celebrating being different.

Prabal Gurung lists Yves Saint Laurent as one of his design inspirations and claims that upon seeing a beautiful white dress in a Chanel store in London, he knew at once what he wanted to do in life. With his own clothes, he has a simple aim: to make women look beautiful. He understands the transformation every woman undergoes when dressing up in order to look her best, unlike when men do it, and wishes to only make the process a little easier. Even with his present success, Prabal Gurung believes he has still a long way to go and thinks complacency has no place in the industry.