Prabal Gurung

The fashion industry experienced a Platform 9 ¾ moment on Saturday morning. Everyone heading to Prabal Gurung’s show had to enter through a discreet door on one side of a cavernous working post office. To all the customers queuing for passport applications and stamps, the string of colourfully attired fashion types must have made quite the show.

That experience—one of being watched—turned out to be a fitting preview for Gurung’s ‘happening’. Once attendees located the hidden portal, we entered a blacked-out hall and found a Perspex curtain set up as a box around the middle of an all-white runway. Gurung sent his models into this installation en masse, where they stood, stock-still and as silent as Barbie dolls in collectable plastic cases, before taking turns on the runway around the box.

‘The whole inspiration started with the idea of the preservation of an elegant woman,’ Gurung said of his format backstage after the show. He set out to ‘modernise the idealised woman, someone who is colourful, bold, strong and sensual, with just a little amount of danger—femininity with a bite.’

That meant seductive, almost suspiciously feminine garb: tighter-than-tight midi-length pencil skirts in mint, bubblegum and baby blue satin; fitted ‘50s bustier dresses with gathered seams that drew eyes brazenly down the backs of skirts, and little satin jackets that hung from the tips of models’ shoulders. Futuristic elements entered with Perspex harness backs, printed PVC raincoats and corset-like plastic panels on the fronts of tanks and dresses, shining with the the high-gloss promise of candy wrappers.

With all the beauty, there was something menacing and alien about the models’ spray-tanned, lacquered perfection. As the crowd left, Karlie, Ondria, Alana, Hanne, Ji Hye and all the others stood behind their plastic curtain, observing as we filed out. This was the designer’s ‘unapologetic worshipping of women’—and given that other statement about ‘femininity with a bite,’ these are women we’re glad to observe from behind a barrier—unless, of course, we can join them.