Standout Show: Prabal Gurung

At Prabal Gurung’s spring 2014 show, models were precious dolls in a collection, untouched and pristine. But there was also a hint of Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, as echoed by hair stylist Paul Hanlon who explained that the hair was meant to look as though covered in formaldehyde – not quite hair anymore. The models were, after all, encased in a clear vitrine for display, the looks outliving the normally short-lived jaunt down the catwalk. Unlike Hirst’s shark, and in compliance with our disbelief, this collection was very much alive.

Their display was fortunate for show-goers, who had ample time to soak in the details of the collection. The presentation gave the feeling that these looks were freed for a rare outing before ushering themselves back in the box for preservation. Hand-embroidered rosettes made of Swarovski crystal, plastic flowers, painted black brush strokes and even coral all lived together on one black and white silk duchesse dress, while details of stacked sequins, ostrich feathers, rose-shaped paillettes, and ruffles decorated others.

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photo via @prabalgurung

In artificial candy pastels and brights, the clothing combined 1950s cuts and shapes with modern, technical materials and methods. Catherine McNeil and Karlie Kloss stood out especially, in a corseted (exposed) electric blue satin off-the-shoulder dress and a mint satin bomber coupled with a matching pencil skirt trimmed in PVC, respectively. Tonal embroidery displayed a rose on Karlie’s number, articulating the beautiful, thorny flower that helped to inspire the collection.

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Unnaturally fluorescent-bright, chalky lips accentuated the preserved, doll-like nature of the models; these lips were not made for talking, drinking, or eating, and the clothes themselves may be too fussy to live in, though the collection was and will be very much appreciated on display.

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