#ELLEExclusive: Prabal Gurung On What It Means To Dress Vice President Kamala Harris Advertisement

#ELLEExclusive: Prabal Gurung On What It Means To Dress Vice President Kamala Harris

"To me, she is the true face of the American Dream that I came here to achieve"

By Ruman Baig  February 8th, 2021

Prabal Gurung has always played an active role in instrumentally using the power of fashion when it comes to socio-political causes. Recently, Vice President Kamala Harris was spotted wearing a custom-made monochromatic look by him, for the presidential inaugural prayer service—virtually held in the State Dining Room of the White House. Madam VP looked suave in a merlot-hued, wool crepe dress layered with a matching jacket.

 

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As a South Asian, immigrant designer who was born in Singapore, raised in Nepal and India, and has lived in America, Australia and London, nobody understands the value of inclusivity better than Gurung. From selecting a diverse lineup of body-positive and all-race-embracing models for his shows before it became the norm, to openly advocating feminism through his collection of intelligently-designed clothes, Prabal has always utilised his platform beyond its commercial aspect.

Over the years, dynamic ladies like Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and the Duchess of Cambridge have been spotted in his designs. But dressing Kamala Harris, who happens to be the first African-American, South-Asian, black, female Vice President invokes a personal sense of pride in him. In an exclusive conversation with ELLE India, Gurung talks about this important moment in history, and how this will bring about a cultural shift in the upcoming years.

ELLE: As a South Asian designer, what did it mean for you to dress Vice President Kamala Harris?

Prabal Gurung: I feel profound gratitude. Being an immigrant myself, I always felt that the US was the place where dreams come true. Seeing Vice President Harris wearing our design the day after being sworn into office was a highlight for me. Having Harris as the first female, Black, and South Asian Vice President of the US is so important to the global conversation around representation. To me, she is the true face of the American Dream that I came here to achieve: one that is available to all and not just an elite few. When I think of the image of Madam Vice President wearing a sari, it makes me think of the strong women of my family who are really the essence of my being and my biggest source of inspiration. Women all around the world, particularly women of colour, and those in marginalised communities can now feel represented and seen in one of the highest offices in the world.

 

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ELLE: Tell us about the outfit you designed for her and the thought process behind it?

PG: It was a garnet-coloured, form-fitted dress, complemented with a tone-on-tone jacket matching the length of the dress. The look was elegant, powerful, and representative of the sheer force of matriarchal energy.

ELLE: How do you think the shift in American politics will reflect on the future of fashion, especially independent designers?

PG: I always say that fashion does not operate in a vacuum. As designers, we are influenced heavily by the world around us. We take it to heart and it is reflected in our work. This means that we cannot ignore the important global conversations happening around issues like diversity, inclusion, ethical manufacturing, and more. It is our duty to use our platform to be a force for change and progress. I believe that independent designers are the heart and soul of the fashion industry, especially in America. It is independent designers who have been at the forefront of movements for change within the industry and beyond. It is my hope that the new administration will partner with myself and my peers to propel the industry forward and recognise the importance of our contributions to the local economy.

 

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