Prabal Gurung celebrated his capsule collection for Target earlier this week with an elaborate love-themed carnival at Pier 57. Modified versions of his signature designs will be selling for three figures at the box store. So you could say this was a necessary time for the designer to stage an evolution with his main line. Gurung had seemed to be stuck in a groove the last couple of seasons, but he sprung himself loose here with a more confident collection in which he put the emphasis on structured daywear.
He's become a household name dressing celebrities for the red carpet. This show confirmed what we've thought all along: He's no slouch in the tailoring department. On the contrary, there was a rigor to his jackets, even when they came with deep peplums at the waist. A strong military presence was at play. Beforehand, Gurung said he came across Ukraine's Asgarda tribe while doing Internet research. A little Googling of our own failed to confirm the authenticity of the Carpathian Mountains' all-female enclave, where women are supposedly trained in the martial arts to build self-confidence and are generally empowered to combat a culture of gender inequality and sexual trafficking. But as a colleague said, it's one hell of a backstory, and true or not, it doesn't make much difference when the results are as good as his cutaway peacoat and funnel-neck coat in navy brushed wool.
The Asgarda might be called modern-day Amazons, and the metaphor clearly proved irresistible to Gurung, who draped glossy silk into cocktail dresses and gowns with exposed shoulders and cutouts at the waist, then accessorized them with heavy braided leather belts and harnesses. You'd have to be brave indeed to hit the town in a loden green long dress where most of the bodice has been sliced away. A covered-up, dolman-sleeved navy number with a split skirt was chicer for its relative modesty.
Evolution, like revolution, is messy. Some of the tailored pieces incorporating imperial brocade looked busy, not badass, and a dress or two felt too derivative. In some ways, Gurung is still searching for who he is. Nonetheless, this looked like a step forward.