Fashion Week Highlight: Catching Up With Prabal Gurung

New York designer on Lana Del Rey, heaven and hell and more

A model walks the runway at the Prabal Gurung Autumn Winter 2012 fashion show during New York Fashion Week
Karl Prouse/Catwalking/Getty Images
A model walks the runway at the Prabal Gurung Autumn Winter fashion show during New York Fashion Week.
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For his excellent new collection, Prabal Gurung symbolically went to hell and back. It's a stormy journey that suits Fall 2012, making the designer's show one of the week's highlights. "The collection in ways is representative of a spiritual cleansing," Gurung tells Rolling Stone. "It moves from dark hues to cool blues and ends with whites and golds." Indeed, the volatile opening looks call to mind lightning, blue flames, ice, and other awe-inducing forces of glory and destruction. Though it all ends on an airy, radiant note, Gurung's trip to the dark side left a lasting impression, with this showing destined to be seen as pivotal, both for the designer himself and the ideals of the city he designs in.

But multi-dimensional muses galvanize the Nepalese-born designer, who is rapidly ascending into the elite ranks of international designers. In August, Gurung told us he's interested in dressing smart women who go beyond the obvious and who espouse, and contribute, ideas that hold real-world relevance. A woman on a journey who is nonetheless a destination unto herself. With dramatic women as diverse as Lana Del Rey and Rooney Mara captivating him, his penchant for a light/dark mystique grows ever more potent.

What specific artist reflects your current creative mode?
This collection was heavily inspired by Georgia O’Keefe, in particular her "Cow Skull." You can see how this was used throughout the collection, from the Fenton jewelry to the prints and embroideries. 

Did you tie in any musical inspirations?
The main source of inspiration this season was the creation of the blue rose, but I am constantly inspired by music of all genres. Some artists presently inspiring me are Adele, Pictureplane (who did our pre-fall video), Sveta Bout, James Blake and Sia.

You were one of the first major designers to dress Lana Del Rey. Why does she captivate you?
I really love the sound of her voice.  A friend of mine had introduced me to her music before it was well known, and it was so sultry and feminine.

You also dressed Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo's American premiere and have shown an interest in her public profile. She seems to represent something new to fashion. What is it?
Rooney is inspiring in so many ways.  Aside from her insane talent she shared with the world by playing Lisbeth, she really has a unique way about her.  She is unquestionably striking and there is a mysterious air about her that I think many of us are enamored by. 

Have you decided to take your aesthetic into darker domains to challenge yourself, or was this a part of where you intended to take your aesthetic all along?
I am in a place where I feel liberated, and that allowed me to push myself when designing this collection. The movement from dark to light is a reflection of my journey.