Prabal Gurung's Spring 2016 Show Was a Love Letter to Nepal

Following the devastating earthquake in his homeland in April, the designer leapt into action — and the fashion world followed.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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Following the devastating earthquake in his homeland in April, the designer leapt into action — and the fashion world followed.
A look from Prabal Gurung's spring 2016 show. Photo: Imaxtree

A look from Prabal Gurung's spring 2016 show. Photo: Imaxtree

Designers frequently use the platform that they're given during Fashion Month to make a social or political statement, from Chanel's faux feminist rally in Paris for spring 2015 to Pyer Moss's disturbing short film on police brutality this season. An issue that's dear to Prabal Gurung's heart is the relief effort in his homeland Nepal, which was hit with a massive earthquake on April 25. Villages were destroyed, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without homes, food or sufficient care, and Gurung immediately got involved by starting a fund that's raised nearly a million dollars for the cause.

Before his spring 2016 runway show began, Gurung expressed both his gratitude to the fashion community and his devotion to Nepal by bringing out a group of robed monks who chanted a traditional prayer as the audience sat in silence; his show notes revealed that the specific memory of visiting the peaceful monastery near his childhood home helped to shape the collection. After the monks made their exit, models took to the runway in airy, elegant dresses in a palette of goldenrod, rusty orange and rose — shades that recalled not only a mountain sunset but also the Nepalese monks' robes. 

Gurung called upon Nepal-born artist Laxman Shreshtha to create the painterly print that appeared on the first looks, starting the collection with a subtle nod to his homeland. The best of the pieces that followed were clean and soft, like a series of sheer chiffon separates and dresses, a crisp poplin camisole dress with a hand-cut eyelet pattern and crystal-adorned slips that were worn by some of Gurung's seasoned model muses, Missy Rayder and Kirsten Owen. Other standout looks included a bronze, sequined deep-V slip dress worn by Aya Jones, as well as the minimalist finale gowns with long silk trains that seemed to float down the runway.

As for whether Gurung's mission to bring the industry's eyes to an important cause during its busiest time of year was successful, I'd say yes. The references to Nepal in the collection weren't overt, but the show's vibe was serene and hopeful, and the atmosphere was one of reverence — something that's both rare and refreshing during the nonstop bustle of fashion week.