Designer Prabal Gurung has long been inspired by strong women—his recent Fall 2013 collection centered on “empowerment” and a woman’s “armor”—and his Spring 2014 collection continues to elaborate on that theme, this time with a softer touch.
Debuted in the bowels of New York’s Moynihan Station—the old James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue—Gurung’s collection features a candy-colored array of curve-emphasizing silhouettes, juxtaposed with more boyish elements like bomber jackets and boxy blouses.
Backstage, the designer explained that the collection was initially inspired by Bert Stern’s photographs of Marilyn Monroe, taken in 1962 just weeks before she died. “I thought, what an amazing celebration of the female form, and yet so melancholic,” said Gurung. “To me, she was the most idealized woman, but the layering of what she was going through was something we didn’t know at the time. That juxtaposition is something I always try to create in my collections—femininity with a bite.”
In keeping with that idea, the collection itself centers on conventionally “pretty” dresses and separates (rose details, ruffles, corset tops, and even fabric like duchesse satin), paired with edgy, contemporary elements like harnesses, leather, and plastic. The accessories have a retro-meets-modern sensibility—colorful, ankle-wrapping pumps created with footwear label Casadei, and ’50s-inspired sunglasses by Prabal Gurung for Linda Farrow Projects.
“I wanted to abstract and modernize this idea of an idealized woman,” said Gurung. “For me, it’s someone who’s colorful, bold, and unafraid of her curves—really being feminine and appreciating that. Sensual, but with a hint of danger.”
So what, to Gurung, makes a woman truly compelling? “For me, beauty with strength—intelligence and strength—is one of of the most fascinating things,” explains the designer. “What women have that men don’t have—that femininity. They can use it. If they’re smart enough, and strong enough to use it—I mean, the sky’s the limit.”