After the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements found its way to the Golden Globes and the Grammy Awards' red carpet with celebrities turning up in black outfits and carrying white roses respectively as a mark of solidarity, an icon from the East -- Prabal Gurung -- took the movement one step ahead by bringing it on the New York Fashion Week runway.
Gurung, whose name has become synonymous with female-led activism, showcased his Fall 2018 line inspired by the 'superheroines' in his life, female-dominated societies like the matriarchal Mosuo tribe of China and India's activist Gulabi Gang -- 'a community of female activists who adorn themselves in pink saris symbolic of their self-proclaimed power and fearlessness'.
To say the least, Gurung's collection 'Gulabi Gang', was all about celebrating womanhood, their fearlessness, strength, grace, resilience and female solidarity.
Hailing from Nepal, Gurung found his inspiration in the 'strong women' who he was surrounded by during his childhood and his mother, who raised him single-handedly. "Throughout my childhood, I was exposed to strong and resilient women. They were the superheroines I looked up to," said Prabal Gurung in an email-exchange with News18.com.
Taking cue from 'Gulabi Gang' and other mentioned inspirations for the collection, Gurung's line was dominated by bright hues of pink, red, purple and blue.
Disappointed with celebrities turning up in black outfits for the Golden Globes, Gurung wanted to give the movement a colour that was symbolic of feminism and exuded power and strength, not sadness. Therefore, he opted for hot pinks, reds and purples teamed with white roses (a symbol of unity in the 'Me Too' movement) -- a few of these colours mostly associated with women.
In fact, speaking about the color story, Gurung has mostly used the colours that are so predominantly seen in 'his eastern world', colours that he believes are the future.
The Fall 2018 collection is a cross cultural exploration. A journey from west to east. The collection celebrates the melding of beautiful cultures represented by collage techniques, bringing together hues of scarlet and pitaya, accented by scarlet chantilly lace and azure tie details. 📸 @moeeztali for @nyfw Sand paintings by artist @joemangrum #pgworld #strongerincolour #pgnyfw #nyfw #femininitywithabite
Gurung's gripping and thought-provoking show opened with supermodel Gigi Hadid walking in, sporting a patterned bright pink sarong overlay draped in a manner that it was wrapped around her neck and tied just below her waist, something one could instantly identify with the pink saris that members of the Gulabi Gang wore, symbolic of their strength and fearlessness. The draped sarong overlay was paired with a white turtleneck sweater that featured fox trim on the sleeves, an orchid-colored skirt that featured a risque high-slit. Besides all this, Gigi held a white rose, in solidarity with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements while she took to the ramp.
All of this put together, set the stage for Gurung's powerful and captivating show.
As regards the collection, the designer's note read: "The collection celebrates the melding of the beautiful cultures with the use of rich Panne velvets, fluid feathers, hand embroidered sequins, engineered patchwork, and Tufted quilting."
"The artisanal spirit seen throughout is an ode to eastern practices, captured by the Mandala-inspired and hand drawn graphic prints, hand cut fringe, hand knit sweaters, and hand embroidered feathers, paillettes and pearls. The utilitarian quilting and cargo details hail from mountain treks through rough terrain. The tasaki atelier ear pieces are meticulously crafted with couture ideals to mimic the graceful silhouettes of eastern draping. Vivid gold wraps around the ear, highlighted by oversized pearls. They epitomize feminine luxury and demonstrate that power and femininity can live together in harmony."
The artisanal spirit of the Fall 2018 collection is an ode to eastern practices, captured by the Mandala-inspired hand embroidered paillettes. Here, we revere unabashed femininity, as we believe that to be one of the greatest strengths a woman possesses. We celebrate the epitome of feminine luxury and demonstrate that power and femininity can live together in harmony. 📸 @voguerunway #pgworld #femininitywithabite #StrongerInColour #nyfw #pgnyfw #coutureideals
Towards the end of the show, the Hadid sisters -- Gigi and Bella -- and the tribe, walked towards the media pit, paused for a moment in silence and then walked back with Bella embracing Gigi by putting her hand across the latter's shoulder. That gesture spoke a millions words. The beauty of one woman supporting another, celebrating sisterhood and much more -- the particular moment had all kinds of emotions and messages wrapped in just that final bit.
Speaking of the final moment, Gurung told News18.com, "The finale was a moment of female solidarity, a moment to celebrate the fearlessness that we’ve seen during these times." "It is so inspiring to see what is happening with women in our society right now, and I wanted to showcase the beauty of women supporting women. That is the world I want to live in," he added.
Le grand finale. This is the #pgworld, where we celebrate female solidarity, we share the colours of Prabal’s home in the east, and we present a vision for our collective future, a future that is #StrongerInColour. 📸 @voguerunway Sand Mandala paintings and set design by artist @joemangrum 💐 @central_park_flowers #pgworld #pgnyfw #femininitywithabite #nyfw
This isn't the first time Gurung is supporting the cause of feminism through his work. Last year, for his Fall 2017 collection, Gurung had models sport T-shirts with powerful slogans emblazoned on it that read, "This is what a feminist looks like"; "The future is female", etc. In fact, he is one for inclusivity too. His show featured models from diverse backgrounds.
Fall 2017 • The birthplace of our #PGTShirtSeries: dedicated to the women who inspire us. Together, we believe in the common bonds of humankind, regardless of race, sexuality, gender or religion. For every t-shirt purchased, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and our foundation, Shikshya Foundation Nepal. #pgworld #pgnyfw #modernglamour #femininitywithabite #nyfw
Taking forward what he began with his Fall 2017 collection, this year too, Gurung chose feminism as his muse and continued to spread the message and celebrate womanhood through his fantastic collection.
Besides his powerful creations and a compelling idea, what also made Gurung's Fall 2018 New York Fashion Week show, a huge success, was the presence of #MeToo founder Tarana Burke at the front row, apparently watching her first-ever fashion show.