An enigmatic title such as “Uncursed,” which Prabal Gurung chose for his fall collection, begs for demystification. Backstage before the show, he said he found inspiration in the blue rose, which does not occur in nature but was engineered in Japan in 2004. “For me, the rose is so blasé because of its popularity,” said Gurung, for whom the blue genus has reversed the curse of banality. There’s more: The idea of creating something totally new set Gurung on a soul search. “We all have the dark and the light side, but for the longest time I’ve only put my happy self out there,” he said. “Finally, professionally, mentally and spiritually, I’m in a place where I’m willing to deal with the dark side of me.”
Gurung thus attempted a collection as multilayered and wrought with deeper meaning as his state of mind. The show progressed literally from dark to light, beginning with all-black looks on brunette models, then a bluish section on girls with light brown hair, followed by the ivory and gold finale shown on blondes. It exhibited further movement away from the ladyfied looks that got him noticed in the first place while crystallizing the provocative yet pretty tone he has assumed the last few seasons. An overall sense of precision was revealed in well-defined lines: sculpted coats, tunics and sexy bootleg trousers; a black neoprene dress with sheer tulle inserts at the waist and neck accessorized with a patent-leather spine harness. Bold variations on spring’s Rorschach-like prints turned up, as did the flounced-skirt silhouette that’s becoming a signature of Gurung’s design vocabulary. The execution was beautiful, and the studied flamboyance risky — all to the designer’s credit.
There was, however, another, less admirable level of risk on view. That Gurung’s prints and evening razzle-dazzle nodded toward Versace is fine — that house’s iconography is part of fashion’s grand vernacular. Not so his homage to Givenchy, fall 2011, which digressed from the “blue rose” idea of newness in its specificity: varsity jacket and printed pencil skirt worn with a visored cap. Gurung has veered toward too-obvious pilfering before; he should stop before it becomes a habit.