What is a moment but an amalgam of memories? What is the present but a culmination of the past? What is the future but a mirrored reflection of history? 

The inspiration for Spring 2018 began with a dream, yet we were wide awake. We were dreamers bringing a group of memories to life with our eyes and minds open. Prior to designing this collection, I visited the “Dreamers Awake” exhibition at the White Cube gallery in London, which showcased surrealist art from the female perspective by brilliant talents like Julie Curtiss, Caitlin Keogh, and Kiki Smith. I was immediately struck by the way these modern artists reclaimed the concept of the female gaze. By repossessing ownership over the fragmented body, their artwork has become a vehicle for irony, resistance, and self-creation, depicting a woman as a strong, sentient, and thinking being. I left thinking that now more than ever is a time for the woman to take ownership over her body to portray her own beauty as she sees fit. 

Reveling in my own dreamlike state, I engaged in a spiritual memory, returning to my vibrant and colorful childhood in Nepal. I was reminded of the visual history of my country, rooted in prayer flags whispering in the wind as their messages and spiritual meaning soar. I continued on to another fantastic memory of a recent trip
to the Tasaki pearl farm in Nagasaki, Japan, with a vision of the Ama, diving mermaids. With strength and determination, these mystical beings plunge into the depths, often clad in no more than fisherman-plaid bottoms, focused and breathless on their quest to unearth beauty. Reflecting on their depiction in history felt dreamlike— somewhere between the real and the hypnagogic. 

In the surrealist world we presented on the runway, beauty takes on multiple meanings: It is soft, sensual, provocative, elegant, unsettling, foreign, discomforting, different. It is a Victorian corset through a modern lens, a chiffon dress that billows, leaving little to the imagination. The disheveled delicacy of threads as they come undone. It is the contradictory juxtaposition of the most feminine of florals beside the tough synthetic-coated trench. It is the de-genderization of color—be it pink, azul, lemon, or seagrass. It is recalling the fearlessness and strength of a woman despite a hyperfeminine appearance; here, the traditional codes of femininity are, as they ever were, powerful. 

This season, we also debuted our Tasaki Atelier collection on the runway, as I had recently been named creative director of the Tokyo-based high-end jewelry brand. Handcrafted with unique organic curves and graphic lines rendered in white and sakura-gold and accented by effervescent diamonds and pearls brightened with hues
of azul, citron, and coral sapphires, we take you on the journey of our inquisition for treasure through the mys- tical sea. Anchor and rope motifs that I saw at the pearl farm ground the collection back in tradition and reality, reminding us of our roots, our heritage, and the story of creation. 

My collection painted a bright, colorful, and sometimes contradictory world that we hope to one day live in. It is a world that is free of bias, free of hate, free of prejudice. Simply put, it is a world where humanity reigns. We cannot dream of anything more beautiful.

Excerpted from Prabal Gurung by Prabal Gurung with permission from the author and publisher.

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  • PRABAL GURUNG LAUNCHED HIS EPONYMOUS COLLECTION IN FEBRUARY 2009 WITH A PHILOSOPHY ENCOMPASSING MODERN LUXURY, INDELIBLE STYLE AND AN ASTUTE SENSE OF GLAMOUR. Gurung was born in Singapore and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. After beginning his design career in New Delhi, he moved to New York to finish his studies at Parsons The New School for Design. Upon graduating, Gurung spent two years with Cynthia Rowley’s design and production teams. Soon after, he was appointed design director at the iconic Bill Blass, a post he held for five years until launching his own collection, PRABAL GURUNG. A focus on quality and innovation has placed Gurung at the forefront of American fashion with designs worn by leading ladies including First Lady Michelle Obama and The Duchess of Cambridge, to name a few. Notable accolades include the 2010 Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award, 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner up, USA Network’s Character Approved Award recipient in 2011, named goodwill ambassador of Maiti Nepal, a finalist of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, recipient of the 2011 CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear and was honored in 2015 with the inaugural Creativity Award from The Drawing Center. Gurung was the official 2013 designer collaborator for Target, launched a product collaboration with MAC Cosmetics in 2014, collaborated on a collection with TOMS to support Shikshya Foundation Nepal in 2016, launched a capsule with Lane Bryant in February 2017 and was named the Global Creative Director of Tasaki in September 2017. In November 2019, Gurung was named the first ever Honorary Designer of the National Portrait Gallery Celebration at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and published his first coffee table book. Prabal Gurung chooses to manufacture in New York city to uphold standards of quality while supporting the local community. With over 80% of the collection made in New York, Prabal Gurung is committed to sustaining domestic employment and income. The brand recognizes the importance of domestic production, particularly in respect to the quality of the finished product and helps to bring this awareness to an international audience.