Sunday, March 7, 2010

Designers Chris Benz and Prabal Gurung

AN INTROSPECTIVE NERD can make it as a design star on reality TV, but not so in real life. True Seventh Avenue stars tend to rival Jude Law in the looks department and feature megawatt personalities—like Prabal Gurung and Chris Benz.

Gurung grew up in Katmandu in the Kingdom of Nepal. He later studied fashion in India, and while earning a degree at Parsons in New York, he interned for Donna Karan. He then worked for Cynthia Rowley and was design director at Bill Blass before launching his own eponymous line in 2009. His recent collection celebrated witty, loose classics with extra bows and arty prints. And Demi Moore is now a regular customer.

“Nepal is 20 to 30 years behind the rest of the world,” admits the infectiously upbeat Gurung. “But people are very spiritual. Buddha attained nirvana in Nepal. I’ve watched my mom doing yoga, teaching yoga, since I was a kid.”

Meanwhile it was Oprah who inspired Gurung to travel to New York. “I was watching TV in Katmandu, and she did a show on following your dreams,” he says. Yes, Gurung has had the cover of WWD, but one of his most meaningful moments? “When Oprah wore the red gown I made for her on the cover of O magazine,” he recalls.

Chris Benz, anointed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, is handsome and has much charm and talent. He grew up on Bainbridge Island in Washington State with the lure of Seattle’s grunge bakeries only a ferry ride away. His aesthetic borrows from one of his grandmother’s attics at her Pacific Northwest captain’s house and another in Palm Springs. Benz interned with Marc Jacobs and worked for J.Crew before launching his fl uffy, colorful line like a Grucci fi recracker in 2007, bursting onto the scene with glitter and glamour. Eva Amurri and Eva Mendes have worn his feathery, grunge-inspired pieces.

Benz describes growing up in a preppie bedroom community: “My mom loves Ralph Lauren, but the weather is so rainy and everyone is so depressed that they drink way too much coffee,” he says. “We hung out at the Bauhaus coffee shop in Seattle, where weird grunge bands play during the day. My girlfriends were really innocent, with streaks of purple and pink in their hair.”

So where do these fashion wunderkinds think design is headed? “Customers are interested in investment pieces,” says Benz. “It’s all about sparkle, some type of embellishment, strange color combinations. Everything has a sheen. I’m seeing a sparkly cocktail dress with an army jacket and a fl at boot.”

And downturn chic for Prabal Gurung? “I’m hoping to see a move away from an overly sexual, vulgar, body-conscious look,” he says. “They want something a little more romantic, prettier… more optimistic.”


Featured are pieces from the designers spring 2010 collection......beautiful!

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