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New York Fashion Week Fall-Winter 2011: Falling for designer Prabal Gurung

February 13, 2011 |  8:27 pm

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It's hard to believe Prabal Gurung just launched his namesake collection two years ago. The designer, who was raised in Nepal, has had a meteoric rise, dressing everyone from Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey to young star Hailee Steinfeld at the Golden Globe Awards this year.

His fall collection was his best yet -- daring, sensual and intoxicatingly beautiful.

After the show, Gurung made an interesting point about who is buying his clothes. "Like it or not, the market is not American. It's international. And those customers are buying European designers because they think their clothes are special."

How to compete with Chanel and Valentino? "I had to push myself beyond my comfort zone," he said. "It can't all be about sportswear."

Instead, he gave us red carpet-worthy va va voom, more Parisian chic than American utilitarian. Gurung said his collection was inspired by Dickens' spinster character Miss Havisham. But his models looked more like they had come to life from the pages of a bodice ripper.

The first look, modeled by Karlie Kloss, was a crimson washed-silk dress, artfully draped with an exposed tulle bustier revealing a heady amount of decolletage. The below-the-knee length was completely refreshing, especially with Wolford's bondage-themed, criss-cross patterned "Hero" stockings. Add black leather half gloves, and pink streaks in the models' hair, and it made for an edgy spin on old-world glamour.

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For daytime, an ivory wool sheath was adorned with black Chantilly lace panels, and a fox fur jacket came dyed ombre pink.

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Other highlights included a pink-and-red, cap-sleeved crinkle chiffon gown anchored with a black leather belt, and a tulle dress embroidered with handpainted gold and silver sequins and feathers that seemed to peel away, evoking a fragile beauty.

Special indeed.

--Booth Moore in New York

Photos: Looks from the Prabal Gurung fall-winter 2011 runway collection shown during New York Fashion Week. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson and Peter Stigter / For The Times.

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