Talk of the Tents

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Prabal Gurung: Modern Marilyn Monroe in a plastic world

A model walks the runway at the Prabal

A model walks the runway at the Prabal Gurung fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 at Skylight Studios at Moynihan Station. (Sept. 7, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

In the showmanship department, Prabal Gurung’s afternoon show at Manhattan’s main post office was, by far, the most dramatic of the week so far. Thirty-eight models filed out from backstage and marched into a rectangular box on the runway that was enclosed with plastic panels. They stood there, still, until, one by one, they emerged from the plastic, taking a runway walk and returning to their original spot where they stayed, motionless, until the audience exited. Wow!

It wasn’t just the staging that captured the imaginations of the assembled.  The clothing with its ferocious femininity – cutout dresses, back ruffles, clear plastic and white leather back harnesses (a theme Gurung has investigated before), along with gigantic prints, PVC raincoats, luxurious gowns and even a giant hand-embroidered red rose -- was wildly fanciful.  The finale gown was a knockout – a black and white column lined in purple and dappled with rows of black and purple sequins.

In program notes, Gurung said he was “attempting to abstract and modernize the concept of the idealized woman who is bold, colorful and sensual with a hint of danger.” Photographer Bert Stern’s “Last Sitting,” featuring arresting images of Marilyn Monroe – melancholy and beautiful – was, in part, his inspiration. Gurung suggested his collection evoked, “femininity with a bite.”