The fashion designer Prabal Gurung has had a busy few weeks. He put the finishing touches on the hand-embroidered silk organza dress that he made for his niece for her wedding in Nepal (it features 500,000 beads), he’s been working on his pre-fall and fall 2020 collections in his New York studio and he recently returned from Los Angeles, where he hosted a dinner in celebration of his new coffee-table book, out this week from Abrams. The book, which includes an interview between Gurung and T’s editor in chief, Hanya Yanagihara, is a sweeping survey of the designer’s first decade in fashion. It follows Gurung from his decision to start his namesake brand in 2009, at the height of the recession, to the first time he dressed Michelle Obama — for the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2010 — to the work he has done for his Shikshya Foundation Nepal (a nonprofit that focuses on providing education to Nepalese children in need) and to the many red carpet moments he has created in between. “It truly feels like it’s happened to someone else,” Gurung says now, reflecting on his career. “I did have a dream, and I wanted to do this for a period of time. But I have so much more that I want to do. I’m really not sitting at a place where I’m like, ‘Oh, I made it.’” We sent the designer an instant camera and asked him to share a glimpse into his world. Below, his visual diary.
The entrance to Gurung’s office in New York. “This place is truly my second home, with an incredible team that often feels like family,” he says.
The designer with his new coffee-table book, out this week. “It’s a story about an immigrant’s American dream come true,” he says. “I came here knowing no one — but I knew what I wanted to do.”
Looks from the spring 2020 collection line the racks at the studio. When Gurung started, he wanted to create “a luxury brand with a soul,” he recalls. “A woman in her full feminine glory is quite unnerving for the patriarchy,” he says. “Femininity is a woman’s biggest tool.”
After working as the design director at Bill Blass for five years, Gurung launched his own brand in 2009, at the height of the recession — against the advice of everyone he knew. Pictured here is the Council of Fashion Designers of America Swarovski Award for women’s wear that he won in 2011.
“This Casey Cook painting hangs over our front desk at the office in New York.” Gurung says. “Casey gave this to me as a gift because I made her wedding dress for her … in red!”
At the end of November, Gurung will travel to Nepal for his niece’s wedding — and he is planning to perform at the sangeet, a pre-wedding celebration. “This is a preview of one of the outfits I will be wearing,” he says.
Gurung traveled to Los Angeles in late October to toast the launch of his book. He called this personalized plate of chocolate (and handwritten note from the hotelier Jeff Klein) “a very warm welcome at the Sunset Tower Hotel.”
“When planning where we would host our first book event, I wanted to start in Los Angeles to show my gratitude for their embrace at the start of my career,” says Gurung. “I felt immediately welcomed by the stylists and the community there, and feel that they were integral to my success.”
“This is me giving my speech at the L.A. book launch event. I had to follow an amazing introduction from my dear friend Bing Chen,” says Gurung. “He was a tough act to follow!” Reflecting on the event later, Gurung says, “That was exactly what I have always wanted a dinner party to look like. Colorful, well-represented — how I see the world.”
“We’re all just born to love,” says Gurung, pictured here in a sweater of his own design. “Love and passion are a driving force in so much of what I do and create. It is the very essence of being human.”