A sophomore collection can be a tough test for an up-and-comer still establishing his identity, but Prabal Gurung passed with flying colors. In an economic climate that must make it tempting to cut whatever corners you can, it's clear that this is a young designer devoted to the craft of making clothes, and to making them with some of the finest materials out there. The starting point for Gurung's 26-look lineup was a bottle of his mother's YSL Rive Gauche perfume from the 1970's. "I loved it," he said, "and I love product design, so I thought about playing with the idea of packaging." There was one double-faced charmeuse dress wrapped with spiraling horsehair like, well, a package, but that bit of tongue-in-cheek aside, Gurung is deadly serious about the business of looking chic.
He drapes a mean dress. It's the attention to detail that separates his one-shoulder cocktail frock from the next guy's. Apparently, Gurung spent three days with his patternmaker making sure the brush-painted rose on one such number appeared just so on the bodice. Other highlights included a white matte jersey off-the-shoulder goddess gown and a white tropical wool and silk duchesse tuxedo with a bow-tied lapel. If some of the looks bore too close a resemblance to pieces from his first season, Gurung gets a pass this time around. That's the risk in having such a razor-sharp focus.