“I want people to feel joy” explains Prabal Gurung on his new collaboration with Etsy. “When you look at these items, I want it to evoke a memory, and signify a moment”.
The American creative director of his eponymous fashion label is the first in Etsy’s new Creator Collaboration campaign that pairs renowned creatives with sellers on the platform.
Gurung has teamed up with independent makers to create one-of-a-kind homewares as part of a limited-edition collection that is made up of handcrafted pieces like candle holders and vases. “Growing up in Nepal and India with artisans and craftsmen using centuries-old techniques and making something arduously and with love and care.” He tells Evening Standard over the phone from New York. “I always wanted to collaborate with people who have that kind of skill, especially when there’s an opportunity to learn a creative process.”
After a year where optimism and positivity has been in short supply, the collection is a breath of fresh air with Gurung’s signature knack for injecting colour in a way that feels fresh and refined. He stresses the importance of this, “I’m looking at homeware everywhere and what’s considered chic and it’s a very singular point of view with neutral palettes. Colour opens your mind - literally and metaphorically. Adding colour into your life - whether that’s flowers, dishes, or the clothes that you wear - makes you look at things differently. Whether you feel excited or afraid, it’s good to feel this. It means you’re not just living, but alive. Allow yourself to feel things, as when you open your mind, the world is yours to conquer.”
Diversity has always been on the forefront of everything that Gurung does. His brand is painstakingly transparent with its practises, publishing casting and staff information in his lookbooks. This is something that runs through this collaboration with Etsy too.
“I say this all the time so it has become our branding - we are stronger in colour,” he explains. “I wanted to partner with independent sellers across the world to offer everyone a seat at the table not just with this project but ever since I started my brand. I know how it feels to be stifled or invisible. I have made a career out of something I absolutely love and brings me immense joy. How fortunate and privileged am I to be able to make a living out of it?
“With the privilege of finding your passion comes a responsibility to use my audience, my platform and my voice to help people who haven’t been heard. My personal life is filled with people from different walks of life - shape, size, gender, identity - I look around and that’s how I see the world. I find this division between race and gender is so futile and honestly boring. Life is far more interesting when we have colourful people around us.”
Fashion brands taking on the homeware sphere is nothing new - brands like Versace and Missoni have been offering interiors for years - and the high street is starting to catch on - H&M, Mango, Boohoo and Missguided to name but a few. Is the creative process different? “It’s similar”, explains Gurung. “The medium is different but I always come up with an idea or a dream of what I want it to be, to look like, and what I want people to feel. When you have a point of view about aesthetics, taste, or style - whether it’s fashion, clothes or homeware - that comes from a creative place. I love the idea of giving life to inanimate objects.”
In a year with scarce red carpet moments and a national wardrobe rotation that mostly consisted of tatty pyjamas and loungewear, you’ll have still spotted Gurung’s designs. He dressed US Vice President Kamala Harris during the presidential inaugural prayer service, and she was spotted wearing his designs mere hours after our interview took place. Michelle Obama was also a huge advocate of the brand, donning Prabal Gurung on many occasions throughout her fixture as First Lady. Does the thrill ever wear off? “It’s still a thrill - oh my god!” exclaims the designer. “It never goes away. Kamala Harris is the first woman in the second highest position in the most powerful office in the world and also she is half Black and half South Asian.
“I have always believed in dismantling and redefining patriarchy, while celebrating matriarchal energy, I truly believe for the world to move forward in a positive direction we need women and marginalized people to be in positions of power. Seeing her wearing my design is such a thrill and an honour. It sends a message to people who have a hard time believing in their dreams. It’s a validation for dreamers like me and makes me feel like I might be on the right path,and when you are on the right path, it’s only a matter of time until good things happen.”
£26 | Feltmoonstudio
Dried floral arrangement
£47 | LoboFloral
From £22 | PepperPalm
From £30 | nowwhatnapkins
From £55 | JadeGallupStudio
From £90 | Colorbloom
Graffiti rose dinnerware
From £61 | TwinettePoterie
Stronger in colour dinnerware
From £50 | TwinettePoterie
From £90 | Colorbloom
From £20 | ancopapergoods
£31 | WAAMIndustries
Embroidered face masks
£29 | theWhiteTreedesigns
£85 | extraspecialtouch
Candle stick holders
£50 | JadeGallupStudio