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Emotions were running high on the first official night of New York Fashion Week, with parties and shows back to their pre-pandemic energy — the only difference from pre-2020 seasons being the presence of masks and mandatory vaccination checks at every venue. Fashion Week, simply put, isn’t fooling around; if you want to experience the thrill of in-person runway presentations once again, have your vax card out and ready to show.
“It’s your moral and ethical duty to get vaccinated, I truly believe that,” said Prabal Gurung backstage after the presentation of his spring 2022 “American Girl” collection, a bright and optimistic ode to women in his adopted country. And on the front row, one of today’s most talked-about New York women: Governor Kathy Hochul, wearing a floral-print dress by the designer while her office announced a partnership with IMG-owned NYFW: The Shows to offer two Manhattan locations, Moynihan Train Hall in Midtown and Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park in Battery Park City, to designers free of charge.
Gurung chose the latter for his outdoor presentation, also because loved the view: “Lady Liberty is right there,” he said. “I’ve always believed America is a woman, so it was a nice celebration of that.” Also in the audience Wednesday night: La La Anthony, Amelia Gray Hamlin, Nicky Hilton Rothschild, Huma Abedin and Maye Musk.
On the runway were pieces including a molded-seam petal blazer and matching wrap miniskirt, both in a bold “highlighter orange,” along with a flurry of multicolored feathers in an empire minidress. Gurung said he was in the mood to not only honor women, but also offer them something unabashedly joyful. “What I wanted to create was the possibility of what all different beauties look like,” he explained. “I’m a designer, I listen to a lot of women, and the friends who buy my clothes told me they’re ready to feel sexy, pretty and dressed up. So we’re creating that world of diversity and inclusivity; I wanted to have that substantive conversation through my lens of hope and optimism.”
At the upcoming Met Gala happening Monday night, Gurung also will celebrate a major milestone, with one of his designs featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” and it’s clear the Nepalese designer is moved by the inclusion. “As a kid growing up in Nepal, I just wanted to become a designer,” he said, tearing up a little as he thought about his journey. “I never thought I would get to show in a space like this, let alone take part in the Met Gala. It feels surreal, as though it’s happening to someone else. I’m so grateful.”
About 40 blocks north, in the same moment Gurung’s show was debuting, Chloe x Halle took the stage at The Top of the Standard, the cocktail lounge on The Standard Hotel’s 18th floor, as the musical guests at Bulgari’s party to celebrate the latest designs in its B.Zero1 collection. DJ Paul Sevigny provided the music before and after Chloe x Halle’s set, while guests included Bulgari ambassadors Lily Aldridge and Martha Hunt, as well as Irina Shayk, Roberto Rossellini and star stylist Law Roach.
The iconic Italian jeweler also introduced its latest brand ambassador, actress and singer Eiza González (Hobbs & Shaw, Godzilla vs. Kong), who joined the house in July. “It’s truly exciting as a Mexican woman and an immigrant to become a North American ambassador,” Gonzalez told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s proof that diversity matters, that it’s important to put people we can identify with both in front of and behind the camera. I feel very honored representing my culture and the Latinx community, and I can’t wait for this relationship to grow.”
With plans to also attend Tom Ford’s Sunday evening show, what advice does Gonzalez have for attendees at this season’s NYFW? “Wear your mask, but also take some risks with fashion and have fun,” she said. “And most of all, enjoy going back to the real world.”
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