“If you see a woman in a beautiful chiffon dress and she turns around and gives you a hint of harness, that’s my woman,” said Prabal Gurung during a preview. He did more than just imagine that customer for spring; he created her in a wonderful synergy of bold color, technical experimentation and ambition, with a baseline of classic 1950s elegance. The result was a very modern take on womanly traditions, or in Gurung’s words, “femininity with a bite.”
His mood board was filled with images from Bert Stern’s “Last Sitting” with Marilyn Monroe, including the soft-focus nudes of her holding strategically placed roses and a Fifties-era image of three women wearing blue, red and yellow coats. Not on the wall, but perhaps in the air, was a whiff of Raf Simons’ recent work at Dior. Still, Gurung’s colors, the roses and the Marilyn-esque glamour were all imaginatively retooled throughout the collection, which opened with the models lined up behind clear plastic walls.
There was also a clinical element to the show, which Gurung used to subvert the retro sophistication. White double-bonded cotton poplin dresses with fold-over details backed in pastels brought to mind nurse uniforms, and two takes on the raincoat — one in hand-painted clear plastic, another in glittered, laminated tulle — kind of looked like chic lab coats.
Day clothes were a collision of athletic details and tony classics, such as a bonded technical satin bomber jacket and slim skirt with rose embroidery. If not always perfect, Gurung’s fabric work, which included spongy, technical tweed and beautiful rose-printed leathers, was impressive and worth appreciating for the fact that it showed a designer willing to go out on a limb.
The evening dresses were the real highlight, with Gurung turning down the sporty effects to let the glamour glow. True to his word, he layered harnesses under the dresses and gowns, many done in thick, colorful satin wrapped around the body or corseted and spliced with mesh on tea-length dresses. A black silk duchesse dress, cut off the shoulder and embroidered with big crystal rosettes, was just about perfect.