Last season, Prabal Gurung dipped his foot into sportier than usual waters; apparently he decided that pool’s not for him. For fall he again embraced a dressier mood, yet not one that drew a straight line back to the ladified retro of his initial fame. The difference proved delightful. A pink-and beige stucco runway set the mood for a lineup derived from twin inspirations: John Singer Sargent’s “A Parisian Beggar Girl,” and that infamous, sun-shunning shut-in Miss Havisham who out-Edies both Edie Beales. Gurung loved “Great Expectations” growing up, and for this show he wanted to portray “the precursor characteristics” that led the tragic-batty Miss H. to “unravel in such a crazy way.” Translation: a current of eccentricity, that infused Gurung’s polished lady fare with a newfound youth and modernity. It showed up in shocks of color — a vermilion blouse over tight fuchsia pants — and in the air of pretty dishabille with which the clothes were worn; for example, the sleeve of a rumpled silk party dress falling off of Karlie Kloss’s shoulder.
This sense of his character’s involuntary risk-taking (in fact, Gurung was in complete control) allowed the designer to unify a disparate array of looks — high-glam fox and chiffon; racy lacy pants; a harness over a froth of angelic feathers — into a collection filled with personality. And if once or twice he went too far, overall, it was a pleasure to view such distinctive, pretty clothes that will entice even ultra-proper types to indulge in a bit of chic unraveling.