The Man Behind the Collection: Get to Know Prabal Gurung

February 5, 2013 - Article reads in
Prabal Gurung for Target

We’ve been talking about him for months now, but how well do you really know designer Prabal Gurung? Below, find out how he went from a young boy with big dreams in Nepal to Target’s latest design collaborator.

Born in Singapore and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, Prabal had a flair for design at an early age.

“My mother had a boutique while I was young and I remember spending so much time there,” he said. “It’s where I felt inspired.  I was also sketching as far back as I can remember.”

After beginning his design career at New Delhi’s National Institute of Fashion Technology, Prabal apprenticed with local Indian designer Manish Arora. But New York City came calling in 1999, so he moved halfway across the world to finish his studies at Parsons The New School for Design.

“I wanted to gain as much knowledge in as many facets of the industry as possible so I studied such a range of curriculum.  Parsons is an incredible institution and I was lucky to have been a student there.”

While finding his way around Manhattan and attending classes, the star student still found time to intern for legendary Donna Karan. That same year, Prabal was awarded the prestigious “Best Designer” title at the annual Parsons/FIT design competition.

After graduating, Prabal spent two years working with Cynthia Rowley’s design and production teams before being named design director at Bill Blass, a coveted post he held for five years.

“Cynthia Rowley was actually one of the judges of the Parsons/FIT competition, and it was then that she offered me an internship on her design team,” recalls Prabal. “That really was the beginning of my career in so many ways.”

But after working with some of the most talented names in the fashion industry, Prabal was ready to step out of their shadows and into his own long-awaited spotlight. In February 2009, the ambitious designer launched his first collection during New York Fashion Week, much to the praise of the fashion elite.

“Everyone was telling me it was the worst time to launch [a collection] and I figured if it didn’t work out I could blame the economy! Fortunately we’re still on the up and it’s a good thing I went with my gut. I had my closest friends doing the production, the FLAG Art Foundation came on board to support and the turnout was better than expected. Nobody ever forgets that first season — I’d say that’s near impossible!”

A focus on quality and innovation has placed Prabal at the forefront of American fashion with a fan base of loyal leading ladies, from Hollywood’s most-acclaimed (Oprah Winfrey, Zoe Saldana, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence) to First Lady Michelle Obama and Great Britain royalty, Princess Kate. It’s safe to say that rarely does a red carpet go by without a little Gurung.

Photo courtesy of Prabal Gurung’s Instagram 

Prabal has some pretty shiny hardware too: In 2010, he was the recipient of the Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award and selected as runner up for the 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Just a year later, he was honored as one of USA Network’s Character Approved Award recipients, named Goodwill Ambassador of Maiti, Nepal, a finalist of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award and the recipient of the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear. Phew—that was a long list!

With a design philosophy characterized by a mixture of modern luxury, indelible style and an astute sense of glamour, he quickly caught Target’s (bulls) eye. On Feb. 10, he’ll bring his trademark philosophy to an exclusive collection for Target. Inspired by a tender love story, Prabal Gurung for Target features women’s apparel and accessories suitable for all occasions, from the initial crush to everlasting love.

“I’m a designer that gets inspired by women, so this collection is my ode to them.”

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