Feb 17, 2015
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Asian-born talent lights up New York runway

Feb 17, 2015

Two of New York's hottest Asian-born designers, Thakoon Panichgul and Prabal Gurung, lit up the runway on day four of Fashion Week, unveiling sexy and sensuous fall/winter 2015 collections.

The jet-set, models and fashion editors braved one of the coldest days of the year, picking their way through ice and huddling in fur coats in 16 degrees Fahrenheit (minus nine Celsius) weather outside.

A model presents a creation from the Prabal Gurung Fall/Winter collection during New York Fashion Week February | Photo: AFP/Joshua Lott

The Singapore-born, Nepal-raised and New York-trained Gurung is marking the sixth anniversary of his eponymous label, which has dressed the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama and Britain's Duchess of Cambridge.

He won rave reviews for his latest collection, which mixed sensuous negligee-style cocktail dresses with the comfort of sportswear, creating a sexy yet relaxed silhouette.

Always inspired by the mountains, this time Gurung turned to America's Adirondacks for his muse, as well as sourcing hand-knit Nepalese cashmere and snow leopard printed calf hair.

Barely-there dresses were paired with beautifully tailored, fox and astrakan embossed velveteen coats and luxurious fur-trimmed hoods.

Skirts were slashed on one thigh, up both thighs or to the side, mirroring deep V-necks at the throat. Chunky knitwear and high collars were some of the few nods to winter temperatures.

"The inspiration was this idea of ease and sensuality and comfort, and the sensuality and glamour that comes with it," Gurung told AFP backstage.

"I jut wanted to do this beautiful luxurious sportswear that... spoke about the woman, spoke about the girl.

"And that's my vocabulary. What I wanted to do was bring the glamour of the evening wear to the sportswear, and the ease and comfort of the sports wear to the evening," he said.

The outfits were matched by delicate, stilettos made from snake, suede, lizard and leather, in only Gurung's second footwear collection.

"I wanted to do something that has really something elegant, chic and feminine but that had a little bit of bite, I always say that," Gurung said of the shoes.

- Inspired by Oscar Wilde -

Earlier, Thai-born, Omaha-raised fashion designer Thakoon moved into his second decade in the business Sunday with a bohemian collection for fall/winter 2015 inspired by Oscar Wilde.

"All of the fabrics that I was really loving are all textural, there's a mohair wool, there's velvet tapestry and there was a richness to it that was really reminiscent of Oscar Wilde," he said in an interview.

"It was basically taking the idea of Bohemia but mixing it with 19th century dandy."

The New York-based designer, who has also dressed Michelle Obama and Hollywood star Demi Moore, unveiled his first collection in September 2004 and is looking toward his next decade in the trade.

"I feel great," he said. "Ten years, ago my presentation was in a tiny little space. It was jam-packed and we're able to grow organically and it feels really wonderful."

He says he still keeps in mind the same woman -- a feminine and artistic woman who is refined but also a tomboy -- though his collection has developed substantially over the past decade.

"There are things that I love doing now, like taking menswear shirting and twisting it for women, that's something that we didn't do in the beginning.

"But as I designed, more and more, I discovered that I loved all the things like that, taking menswear elements, and mixing it with a feminine way," he said.

Thakoon put handbags on the runway for the first time, a season after launching them quietly.

"These really accompany the clothes really well, there is a personality to them that... they don't scream bags, they scream just a little something to add to the collection," he said.

For Thakoon, fashion is about fantasy.

"We all want to dream, there is a fantasy to fashion, that's why we all love fashion... so it's really about injecting that every season."

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