While millions of people moved out of New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic, Prabal Gurung stayed and took mental notes of his participation in the city’s historical chapter. He attended Black Lives Matter protests, the Brooklyn Liberation march, peaceful demonstrations by the Stonewall Inn—and people-watched fashionable people “draped in thrifted wears” in Washington Square Park. Perhaps the most meaningful observation made by the Nepalese-American fashion designer over the summer of 2020 was the abundance of bodega roses that lifted New Yorkers’ spirits and served as a symbol of respect and love during such a seminal time in our nation’s history.
As I write this, my own bodega flowers sit on a little kitchen table in my studio apartment—one of my few consistent in-person purchases besides bagels from my local deli. They’re undeniably a little New York luxury, a respite that takes our nose away from the smell that wafts from subway grates, and a sight much more pleasant than an overweight mouse leaping out of a trash can. Bodega flowers are, as Gurung puts it in a letter penned to his Instagram followers on Friday, February 12, “too often overlooked.” They’re a motif rich in symbolism and meaning, imbued in the city’s rich history, and the famed designer looked to them as inspiration for his Fall 2021 collection.
“Bodega beauties took on a special meaning this summer. During a heartbreaking and tumultuous period, they filled us with hope and joy in the moments we needed them most.”
The designer incorporated the bodega flower theme into his collection with a striking lineup of statement-making silhouettes in pink and red: Bridgerton-approved corsets, mega-flared ombré trousers, and floral ruched minidresses with statement sleeves. In his letter to fans, Gurung explains the importance of these colours and the meaning they have in South Asian culture.
“In Nepal and India, the colours pink and red represent an auspicious beginning. An apt colour story imbued with the moody darkness of new york city; the collection is a collision force of matriarchal energy and rebellion.”
I’ll let Gurung describe the rest of the NYC-inspired collection in his elegant poetic syntax:
“The bodega rose motif blooms across the exaggerated sleeves of high-octane cocktail dresses in cottons and silks, fluid jersey looks, and gowns reimagined from vintage store finds. Polka dots punctuate voluminous cotton skirts, hand-pleated sunburst chiffon blouses, and our signature cut-out dresses. Dramatic flounces command the attention of sculptural eveningwear and envelop tailored blouses with flair. The bold energy of the city presents itself in vibrant hues, theatrical trumpet pants, and electric moire mini dresses and cargo pants.”
Press “play” on the video below to watch Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2021 collection come to life in his accompanying film.