A visit to London’s Tate Modern museum turned Prabal Gurung onto Mark Rothko, whose work he was obviously already familiar with, but “it particularly hit me because his work started with lighter colors, and as the years progressed and he became more political and more depressed, the colors turned dark,” Gurung said. More than his moods, the artist’s color schemes, stripes and colorblocking cast a lovely, soft light on Gurung’s pre-fall collection, for which he was careful to heed his retailers.
“The feedback is that what really does well is the idea of modern femininity,” Gurung said. He delivered it in some of his signature shapes — for example, a long-sleeved blue dress with a flounced chiffon hem and cuffs traced with delicate, covered dressmaker buttons. That detail carried over on a serene silk shirtdress with Rothko-esque colorblocking in orange, blue and ivory and painterly stripes. A sense of languid, gentle movement coursed through the clothes, whether a silk camisole and striped pajama pants or a navy wool cashmere coat with blanket stripes and a draped back. Like Rothko, Gurung progressed from warm shades of blue, orange and pink to dark green and black and white. The palette, prints and subtle but special romantic details — mixing micro and large-scale floral prints on a tiered dress, elongating the sleeves of an embroidered sweater — elevated user-friendly silhouettes into occasion dressing. As Gurung said, “The thing is, no one is coming to us for a plain white T-shirt.”