So long, Marilyn Monroe. Goodbye, 1950s. Prabal Gurung is on a new trip, one that produced a more contemplative collection than the wiggle-fest that was last season (the streaker that photo-bombed Look 9 notwithstanding). His models glided past enormous brass gongs as they made their way through the venue. They wore scarves and pashmina wraps high around their necks, and the ankle straps on their heels jingled softly with tiny bells. Beforehand, Gurung said that his last trip home to Nepal got him thinking about the remote kingdom of Mustang, a Himalayan territory wedged between his own country and Tibet that was off-limits to outsiders until 1991. "It's one of the last remaining Shangri-las."
The big surprise was the emphasis on sportswear. This is a guy who's famous for embellished red-carpet dresses, but chunky waffle-knit and cable sweaters were the tactile treasures of the show. For a signature touch, he paired them with wispy chiffon skirts that flashed a fair bit of thigh. Inspired by photographs of the red-clad villagers in the region, draping was the collection's leitmotif. Nothing earth-shattering about draping from this designer, but there was novelty in the fabrics he chose, like the tapestry-printed cotton satin that he wound into a shirtdress and the tweed and embroidered organza that became an asymmetrical evening top. Deconstructed and draped pantsuits that glanced backward at a memorable Nicolas Ghesquière-era Balenciaga collection were ambitious yet well executed. None but the last one, which exposed bare cutouts of skin, felt overwrought.
Cocktail dresses pushed the idea of collaging further. Crimson, bordeaux, and black silks were spliced with a jacquard inspired by a Cecily Brown canvas with results that were louder and busier than Gurung intended. He ended with a trio of evening gowns layered over embroidered chiffon turtlenecks. Even in Mustang red, they struck a glamorously serene tone. Like the rest of the collection, they showcased Gurung's growing versatility.