Designers' Firsts: Prabal Gurung on the Hardest Lesson He's Ever Learned

Prabal Gurung 
Photo: courtesy Prabal Gurung

"Designers' Firsts" is a series where seasoned designers recall their first major milestones in their careers (read Thakoon Panichgul, Josep Font of Delpozo, and Jonathan Simkhai). Next up: Prabal Gurung, who will show his fall 2017 collection at 7 p.m. ET on Feb. 12 during New York Fashion Week.

The first time I knew I wanted to be a designer: I've known I wanted to be a designer since I was a young boy growing up in Nepal. I started watching House of Style by Elsa Klensch when I was four years old, and it always inspired me to want to design. Though I was quite different than the other school boys in Nepal, I am fortunate enough to have come from such a supportive family. My family encouraged me to chase and achieve my dreams, and I am so grateful to them for letting me be who I am.

My first sketch was of a: Either of a dress or flower. I always used to sketch in the back pages of all of my textbooks sitting in the back of my classroom when I was growing up in Nepal.

My first mentor was: My 7th grade English teacher Michelle Monnin, and she is one of the few people in Nepal besides my family who encouraged me to be who I am. Growing up and attending an all boys Catholic school in Nepal...I definitely defied the norm. Ms. Monnin accepted me and allowed my creativity to flourish. She is a special woman and I am lucky to have had her as a mentor, especially at such a young and impressionable age.

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My first show at NYFW was in: The FLAG Art Foundation in Chelsea. We started with an intimate presentation. My close group of friends did the production of the show and I invited many of my junior editor friends. They started calling their senior editors, and next thing I know, I landed the cover of WWD.

The first model I cast was: The first model I cast was Daria Werbowy during my time at Bill Blass.

The first celebrity to ever wear my designs: Zoe Salanda was the first celebrity to wear my dress. She has been a dear friend since our Parsons days, and she debuted my dress at her Star Trek premiere in Berlin in April 2009.

Prabal Gurung - Designer Firsts - EMBED
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty; Franziska Krug/Getty

The first time I knew I made it: One of the biggest moments for me was when the First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of my designs. I vividly remember calling my mother with such excitement. It was such a motivating and inspiring moment and the platform it gave me led to the start of my foundation, Shikshya Foundation Nepal, which aims to provide education for children in Nepal.

The first lesson I learned the hard way: As someone who was always different and didn’t fit into the mold of what a boy “should" be, learning that being different is not a curse is certainly an important lesson I learned the hard way. I now know that being different is something to be embraced, as it is what makes us unique and special. Celebrating diversity is an important pillar for myself personally and for my brand.

The first thing I ever Instagrammed was: A sculpture of the pope was my first-ever Instagram. Here it is!

courtesy Prabal Gurung
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