Prabal Gurung Loves to Manifest as Much as You Do |

Prabal Gurung Loves to Manifest as Much as You Do

New York Fashion Week has arrived with fashion and beauty trends abound, plus countless highly anticipated shows, including Prabal Gurung’s. On Friday, the designer showed his fall 2024 offering amidst a busy first official day of NYFW, and the collection, entitled “Fragmented Memories,” was nothing short of breathtaking. This season, he got his inspiration from an unexpected yet relatable place: his teenage diary, where he used to manifest the life of his dreams—plus the pressed flowers that bled into the pages. If you’re as obsessed with the concept as we are, key pieces are already available for preorder as part of shopping platform Rakuten’s collaboration with four of New York Fashion Week’s biggest designers. Ahead, we chatted with Gurung about his fall 2024 collection, teaming up with Rakuten, and why our younger selves are the ultimate source of inspiration.

On the Meaning of “Fragmented Memories”

“We’re calling the Fall 2024 collection “Fragmented Memories,” which is this idea of memories, [but] it’s not nostalgic—it’s more about the things that inspire you while you’re growing up and what led to me to become a designer. I was thinking about my travels from back home in Nepal to India, Singapore, London, Europe, and more, plus the artists and designs that I’ve loved.

How it started was I was back home in Nepal and I found an old diary of mine, and I had written down my dreams and desires—what one would call manifestations now. I’d traveled everywhere but I’d never been to America and I wanted to be a designer, and people back home told me that it was an impossible dream. I made it possible, and when I look back at the diary, I realized I collected a lot of pressed flowers and over time, they really bled into the pages.

A model walks the Prabal Gurung fall 2024 runway wearing a red and black printed pleated tunic and black leather gloves

The collection is those fragmented memories, and the print of the blouse that we’re doing [and other pieces] is based on photographs that I took of those pressed flowers. Sometimes when we’re constantly on about what’s next, it’s good to take a pause and look at our past so we have a general sense of how to move forward. It’s a personal, sentimental collection from my end.”

On the Exclusive Pieces

“When choosing the looks to feature for preorder as part of Rakuten’s New York Fashion Week partnership, we kept going back and forth, but I edited it down to two things that convey the message of the collection and what the brand stands for. The first, a chiffon pleated long-sleeved blouse with a pussy bow in the back, is signature to the brand and what we’ve been doing, and the print is based on those pressed flowers. The other is a black-and-white double-pleated satin wrap trench, and the style of it is much like how people up in the mountains [in Nepal] wear their jackets and coats—very wrapped around.

Colorful pressed flowers print pleated tunic on model

We make everything here in New York—I’m based here. It’s the idea of two worlds colliding and what’s coming together. When it comes to the blouse, you can wear it to the office, you can go out, or you can wear it from work to cocktails—and the trench coat is just a chic layering piece. I felt like it was versatile enough for [the kinds of] women that inspire me and what they’re looking for in a staple. When I thought about what they want, the idea of a trench and a beautiful blouse kept coming up.”

Wrap trench from Prabal Gurung's fall 2024 collection on model styled with all-black outfit

Byrdie Tip

Now through February 23, Rakuten members have early access to select pieces from Prabal Gurung’s collection as well as fall 2024 offerings from PatBO, Sergio Hudson, and Diotima. When shopping the presale, members will receive 10% cash back. The designers’ current collections are also available on the platform, with the same cash back benefits.

On Reaching a New Audience with Rakuten

“Normally with fashion week, buyers later come in and select which parts of the collection they want, and that’s what becomes available—but Rakuten allowed us designers to pick what we love. For us, there’s a lot of sentimental value to things that we create. We spend almost six months working on a collection, sketching and building, so the fact that they asked us, “What do you want to showcase? How do you want to tell your story?” meant a lot. I think the world that we live in now no longer can operate in isolation, and collaborations make it such a collective journey, which I find really special.”

If you really want to see what’s happening and how the world is changing, look at the runway shows and you’ll understand.

On Making Luxury More Accessible

“From the day I started my brand, I’ve always said this: My job, yes, is to make clothes and it comes at a certain price point because of the fabrics that I wanted to use [and] where I wanted to make them—more than 98% of my collection is made in New York. But one thing as a creative person, I’m also a storyteller, and the storyteller’s job is to make people feel seen. When I was a student, I couldn’t afford a lot of big designers like Yves Saint Laurent and McQueen, but their dreams and their storytelling inspired me to become a designer and made me feel seen in so many ways. I always feel like how I present the story I tell, how I present the models on the runway, and diverse casting—ever since I started, I’ve been doing that—that’s what I think is important as a brand. As designers, we are supposed to do that.

With this kind of access to Rakuten’s audience, they have access to even more of the story I want to tell, and I always want to build a community of people who care about fashion, the world, and how we live. There’s a depth and levity and a joy to it. I think that this partnership and getting access to a customer who may not have heard of me, or I may not be as familiar with them—it’s the perfect way of coming together.”

How He Hopes the Fall 2024 Collection Impacts Viewers

“I hope [people who see my fall 2024 collection, both in person and at home] actually fall in love with it. My team and I always joke about how we spend six months on a collection that’s going to be on a runway for maybe eight to 10 minutes. I always say that fashion is a metaphor for life and its impermanence: You have to be present in the moment. I hope the audience finds that the curated items [in the Rakuten collaboration] and the runway collection overall tell a story to them. Besides taking advantage of the preorder access and the cash back, I hope that whether it’s a physical or metaphorical diary, that they revisit their memories and really take a moment to appreciate where they started and where they’ve come.”

Close-up of a wrap trench from Prabal Gurung's fall 2024 collection, available now on Rakuten

On How His Design Aesthetic Has Evolved

“I’ve never worried about trends, but two things have evolved over the years. In terms of what I believe in and the kind of women and people that I want to dress, it’s always been very consistent. I always say [I make clothes for] people of substance, people who are curious. They are global glamorous nomads who are curious about the world and the space that they occupy. [My vision] has evolved simply out of curiosity. As the world changes, as values change, and as we start to feel differently and see each other more, the collection changes accordingly. I feel like the consistency and the curiosity has evolved over time. It speaks to the world I’ve created of style and substance.”

On the Significance of Fashion Week in 2024

“The most obvious thing about fashion week is the clothes, but I think that in so many ways, the fashion industry and shows are a mirror to society and the zeitgeist—what’s about to happen and what’s happening. Every six months, we’re able to tell a story, which [not many people get to do so often]. Artists don’t get a chance, musicians don’t get a chance, filmmakers usually take years to make something, but fashion designers are able to address the moving zeitgeist. I’ve always said this: If you really want to see what’s happening and how the world is changing, look at the runway shows and you’ll understand.

Besides that, I always feel like runway shows and fashion begin with lookbooks or however people want to do it, and what it represents is the idea of living your dream, that idea of being like, this is what I want. It’s very easy for us to be at this point in our lives and careers and be like, oh, you should do this, you should do that, but we also remember when we were 16 or 17 years old, we had big dreams, but we were so scared. Was it possible? So I always hope that besides the economics of it, it inspires people to be big dreamers. If anything, what the world needs right now are dreamers and storytellers because storytellers are healers.”

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