New York Fashion Week: Prabal Gurung Explores Impermanence

The Prabal Gurung collection is modeled during Fashion Week, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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Prabal Gurung installed a mirrored square runway reflecting an opulent blue light display at the main branch of the New York Public Library for a fashion week show Friday

Does a butterfly know it was once a caterpillar? How do we fill those fleeting moments between beginning and end, joy and despair?

With moody luxury clothes, of course.

Prabal Gurung was thinking deep this season. He installed a mirrored square runway reflecting an opulent blue light display at the main branch of the New York Public Library for a fashion weekshow Friday exploring the Buddhist concept of “anichya,” or impermanence.

In butterfly motifs, wool jackets and hues of vermilion, saffron, burgundy and dusty pinks, Gurung was thinking of his homeland, Nepal, where he hasn’t been since before the pandemic. He was motivated by a 10-day meditative retreat he recently experienced to “silence everything.”

“In Nepal, we talk about it all the time, what is present and how soon it can go,” he told The Associated Press in a backstage interview. “And there’s actually an optimism to that, especially during these challenging times.”

The idea, in part, was finding hope “in the dark places,” he said. “There’s light after darkness.”

His silhouettes were sharper and longer this time around. His asymmetry challenged the idea of harmony. He draped softly and provided sharp angles at the same time. There were fluid, gliding skirts, wool jackets and glitzy golds and crystals.

In short, Gurung explained, New York Fashion Week for him was a “magical, mystery journey. An inward spiritual journey” taken at night back home in Nepal.

Moody, yes, but hopeful in turquoise and emerald silk organza, a black leather cropped jacket with a pink shearling collar and his butterfly print in a high-low, high-neck dress of black and white, and another in sheer red and black with sexy cutouts at the hip.

There was an oversized sweater in an ivory and yellow butterfly knit and a pink and scarlet embroidered cocoon coat.

“But there’s a lot of strength to it,” Gurung said.

All grew from the silence on his 10-day vipassana retreat, where reading, phones and exercise were banned. On the third day, a painted lady butterfly landed on his window, “and it gave me something to ponder.”

Having grown up with “impermanence,” Gurung said, he wanted to embrace the notion that nothing is fixed but constant shifts need not be feared. They must me embraced, he said, and he’s got just the right clothes for the job.

Kelsea Ballerini, who stunned in a yellow gown by Gurung at the Grammys, was among his front row guests. She was accompanied by Becky G and Alyah Chanelle Scott.