Inspiration backstory — no designer should be caught without one at collections time. The sound bites offered on a seasonal basis range from the general — “confidence,” “pantsuits,” etc. — to the hyper-specific, which is where Prabal Gurung tends. He practically optioned the rights to a story he read in Time Magazine’s “The Best Inventions of 2012,” a piece about the U.S. military testing body armor specifically designed for women since the men’s gear they’ve been using is too big for 85 percent of female troops. “It came back to this idea of empowerment,” said Gurung during a preview. “Traditionally, we tend to look at men’s uniforms and then redesign, but this was very much focused on women.” He feminized the classic army tropes of olive green and navy tailoring aggressively and inventively, slimming the cuts, accentuating waistlines with belts and leather harnesses, and topping off daywear with tufts of white fur. Chunky knits and slinky satin skirts and blouses featured fleshy cutouts and epaulet details. Skirts were shown with thigh-high footwear that approximated leg braces. This was sex appeal as brute force.
As a collection, it presented a strong look that was focused and at its most personal when he incorporated notes of his Nepalese heritage into the picture. Some of the tailored pieces featured beautiful black-and-crimson brocade details, and a red folkloric jacquard traced a slim, cutaway denim skirt.
Evening is where Gurung has most successfully established an identity; this season’s lineup added to that vocabulary. Working in ivory and red silk crepe-back satin, Gurung imitated the drape and reveal of saris, baring shoulders, backs and sides on dresses long and short for an elegant sensuality.