Update: Following the publishing of this article, people on Twitter have pointed out that Prabal Gurung erased an Indigenous land recognition sign from two images in its Resort 2022 lookbook.
The sign is part of a mural in Chinatown by W.O.W Project, a women-, queer-, and trans-led community initiative that aims to grow and protect Chinatown’s culture and history. Read the statements from Gurung and the W.O.W Project here.
This story was originally published on June 23, 2021.
As one of New York Fashion Week’s quintessential designers, Prabal Gurung sure is happy New York City is back in action this summer.
On Wednesday, the designer unveiled his Resort 2022 collection, offering party dresses reminiscent of the early 2000s that are sure to transport millennials to their senior proms (in the best way possible). All looks were photographed on the streets of New York City’s Chinatown, a nod to Gurung’s early days as a designer, when he lived in the neighborhood.
“Vibrant and resilient, full of grit and character, my love for New York City continues to grow,” read Gurung’s collection notes. “[Chinatown] is a whole community that shows the great character of New York City, full of true New Yorkers, often overlooked.”
Full of colorblocking and bold monochrome looks, the joyful 35-piece collection is straight out of the early-aughts party scene, complete with giant flower choker necklaces and brooches, asymmetric ruffles, and midriff cut-outs. There are also lace dresses with corset bodices, a regencycore-inspired trend dominating this season, as well as mini body-con dresses with puff sleeves, a statement style that promises to be big this fall.
Like it or not, the early aughts are back with low-rise jeans, whale tails, trucker hats and even pop-punk accessories after much speculation over Gen Z’s interest in the era of the pink Motorola Razr and heavy lip gloss. And Gurung’s take on early 2000s feminine glam arrives just in time for the resurgence of party dressing post-vaccination (lip gloss optional), with thigh-high slits, voluminous skirts, and loads of color options to paint the streets in blue, pink, black, orange, and purple rounding out the collection.
The new collection feels particularly important following the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on both New York and its AAPI communities that have suffered from a dramatic rise in violence in the past year. According to the notes, Gurung was inspired by the wave of social justice movements and youth activism over the past year, which the designer says “shines through with the intention and substance [...] that is often lost in fashion.”
The Nepalese-American designer is no stranger to making statements on his collections. In 2017, he showcased a collection full of slogan T-shirts emblazoned with phrases like “We should all be feminists” and “Girls just want to have fundamental rights.” While this time his politics may be portrayed more subtly, this latest collection is a big statement during a time when optimism may be the most valuable currency.