Feminist front row helps designer send message of solidarity and empowerment

Gigi Hadid opens Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2018 show. (Photo: Getty Images)

There’s been much hypothesizing about how New York Fashion Week would address the current #MeToo moment. Despite an event called the “#MeToo fashion show” — that was not on the official NYFW calendar and was not organized with #MeToo creator Tarana Burke — no designers have so boldly proclaimed their allegiance to the women’s movement with pins or ribbons like they did exactly one year ago during the Fall 2017 runways.

That is, no one but Prabal Gurung, the American-Nepalese designer also known as the “most woke man in fashion,” who again seems to be doing the most to explicitly recognize progressive causes.

Sitting in the front row of Gurung’s Fall 2018 ready-to-wear presentation on Sunday was a who’s who of famous activists including Burke, Huma Abedin, Janet Mock, and Laverne Cox.

Janet Mock attends Prabal Gurung – Front Row – February 2018 – New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

“It means everything,” Gurung tells Yahoo Lifestyle about having those influential attendees sit front row at his show. “What it will signify, hopefully, is the idea of listening to these women, not just them, but women in general. As men, that’s our first call of duty, to listen. Just to have them there fully circles everything I believe in about solidarity and female empowerment.”

Backstage in hair and makeup, a model poses to show off her beauty look for the Prabal Gurung show in front of a backdrop of empowering messages. (Photo: Alexandra Mondalek)

At a time when only two or three dominos in the larger line of fashion’s alleged sexual harassers have toppled, Gurung’s backstage set up reminded models to embrace their inner strength. Collages of empowering messages hung on a wall in front of which the models had their photos taken by an Amazon Echo Look for Gurung’s collection look book.

Models walked the finale of Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2018 show carrying white flowers, not dissimilar to the Time’s Up Grammy Awards 2018 initiative in which attendees wore white roses as a symbolic reminder of the movement. (Photo: Getty Images)

Another larger sign stood backstage echoing all those messages and alluded to the TIME’S UP movement, reading, “Your time is now.” Additionally, The Model Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to protecting models’s safety, posted messages backstage alerting models of private changing areas if they preferred and provided an email address to contact with any questions or concerns.

The wall backstage at the Prabal Gurung show where models would pose for an Amazon Echo Look camera for Gurung’s collection lookbook. (Photo: Alexandra Mondalek)

It’s with Gurung’s clothing — and the individuals wearing them on the runway — that the designer spreads his message of positivity and acceptance as well. For casting, Gurung, (along with designer Christian Siriano) has helped to normalize inclusivity such that it’s no longer surprising to see a curvy or transgender model wearing the clothes all women want to wear.

As for the collection, it included 44 bold pink, purple, and red-orange looks. Inspiration for the palate and came from the Mosuo tribe of China and India’s activist Gulabi Gang, according to show notes, as seen through remixed traditional prints, fringe, and saris. The clothes are beautiful, if not a bit over-embellished at times. Yet that hardly matters when you consider but one thing: The woman wearing them look powerful — and shouldn’t power radiate from the inside and outside?

 

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