Who gets to be an American? The question was spotlit on the cement floor of Prabal Gurung’s Spring Studios showplace. A Nepalese immigrant, Gurung has made his politics increasingly clear in the years since President Trump’s election. If, once upon a time, there was a concern that fashion and politics don’t mix, it’s been replaced by far more urgent worries.
Gurung had plans to celebrate his 10th anniversary this season, christening the Vessel at Hudson Yard’s with its first-ever fashion show. He abruptly pulled out of negotiations for the space when news broke that Stephen Ross, Chairman and Founder of Related Companies, the real estate development behind Hudson Yards, was hosting a fundraiser for Trump in the Hamptons in August, taking to his busy Instagram and Twitter accounts to make his feelings known. “This is no longer about party lines,” he wrote. “This is about choosing between two sides, the right or the wrong sides of the history.”
American fashion history was the subject of his upbeat new collection, a survey of sorts of the clothes this country has long specialized in and become famous for around the world. “Sportswear to ballgowns,” is how he put it, but it also included some athleisure, an American invention of more recent vintage.
Casual to formal, all of it was tinged with Gurung’s trademark exuberance; there was zesty color, rose prints, feathers, and tie-dye to spare. He opened with a white dress whose rouleau button cut-out has become his most recognizable signature, and worked his way through denim that he dressed both up and down, pantsuits à la Bill Blass (his alma mater), and menswear, a newish development for him, before getting to the heart of the matter: his cocktail and evening wear. It ranged from a befeathered le smoking to a rose strewn gown whose skirts swept the width of the runway.
For the finale, the models emerged wearing silk sashes printed with the same question—Who gets to be an American?—like contestants in the Miss America pageant. One look at his gorgeous, diverse cast and it was easy to know where Gurung stands and—putting aside worries about our political and social crises—to cheer him on.
Photos are courtesy of Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com