Prabal Gurung is a dreamer. Or so you might think from a quick first look at the ethereal dresses he so clearly loves to design and the deep romance of the mountains in Nepal, his home that he evokes again and again. It doesn’t help that in his show notes he says he’ll take us 'to a place where magical realism reigns.' Of course he will but he’s also as pragmatic as a designer can be, intent on providing his customer with a functioning wardrobe for her life right down here, not up in the clouds. He once told me he wants to give his woman every option she needs, from the red carpet gown, of course, down to the simple t-shirt. That his t-shirt might come in hand-embroidered silk chiffon and dripping in feathers and paillettes is besides the point.
This was a resolutely dress-centric collection, more so than in recent seasons where Gurung has been developing his version of luxurious sportswear – in the American sense of the word. He still showed the fantastic knitwear that’s cleverly become his signature. Hand-knit in Nepalese cashmere, there were long tunics slit open at the sides to better show off the snowy silk satin skirts underneath and off-the-shoulder sweaters. His coats were as luxurious as we’ve come to expect like the double-face wool duffle with toggles and fox fur trim that opened the show and a long shearling coat that unzipped at the waist (2 in 1!). But it was dresses galore and they ranged from a ‘simple’ ivory cotton jacquard dress with all the ease of a t-shirt to an astrakhan-embossed velvet wrap with flouncy sleeves to a series of feather printed chiffon ones, with buttons at the hem left undone. A pine green velvet dress with scattered sequins particularly stood out. The finale gowns, with hand-embroidered trains of sequins and crystals must surely already be booked for the Oscars in two weeks. Turns out Gurung’s customer this season is Snow White.