Prabal Gurung is making his debut in the London retail scene.
The New York-based designer has partnered with Selfridges, which launched the brand’s spring 2017 collection earlier this month, and was in town to celebrate the launch with an intimate dinner cohosted by Tank magazine’s Caroline Issa.
Gurung said he found the perfect partner in Selfridges, not only because of the high caliber of the store but also because its buying team stood behind the political message he has been trying to communicate with his latest collection.
“The store is very dear to me and home to many great designers, but it was also very important that they were supportive of the message I want to pass with my collections and the values of my brand. We live in really unsettling times and this isn’t something that you can do alone,” the designer said.
Gurung, a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, weaved in messages about women and diversity during his latest runway show, with plus-size models on the runway and a finale walk with models wearing T-shirts that featured slogans like “I am an immigrant” or “My boyfriend is a feminist.” The British department store bought into all of the slogan T-shirts from Gurung’s runway, matching them with the brand’s signature feminine dresses and printed midi skirts.
The designer also spoke of the overnight changes in people’s morale following Donald Trump’s election and the need for designers to be vocal; “New York is not the same, you can feel that everyone is anxious, which is why it’s important for us to use our position to speak about things other than fashion.”
Issa said Gurung’s social awareness was one of the many things that attracted her to the designer. “Prabal is a dear friend and I’ve always been telling him that he should come to London. He looks at things like sustainability, giving back to the community, he’s one of the most genuine people in fashion plus he’s a great designer,” said Issa, adding that she is confident his work will appeal to London’s consumer. “It’s all about easy, feminine silhouette, color and print. The London consumer is so diverse and these are all qualities they would love.”