Prabal Gurung Inspires at FN CEO Summit Dinner

Prabal Gurung
Prabal Gurung on stage with FN's Mosha Lundström Halbert at the FN CEO Summit 2015.
Jim Hobart

A passionate Prabal Gurung wowed the FN CEO Summit crowd Tuesday night.

During a conversation with FN’s fashion director, Mosha Lundström Halbert, the New York-based designer talked about his major push into shoes, the big ways social media has helped build his business and why it’s so important to stay true to yourself.

Gurung’s journey has been an inspiring one in many ways. Growing up in Nepal, he recalled watching an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” about “living the dream,” and from that, he decided to apply to Parsons School of Design. He was accepted and made the move to New York.

After launching his namesake business in 2009, the designer spent his first years carving out a niche in a competitive market. “My philosophy is femininity with a bite,” Gurung said.

Prabal GurungPrabal Gurung with FN’s Michael Atmore and Mosha Lundström Halbert. Jim Hobart

Before debuting his footwear collection, Gurung worked with designers from Manolo Blahnik to Nicholas Kirkwood and Casadei on runway shoes. What did he learn from them? “All of them had different things to offer,” the designer said. “One — and I won’t say which one — said that women’s reaction to shoes is like an orgasm.”

Now, Gurung is quickly building a strong following with his own shoe line. “It’s been exciting and nerve-wracking,” Gurung admitted, regarding his decision to get into the footwear business. “It’s so different than ready-to-wear.”

The designer — whose collection has been worn by everyone from Michelle Obama to Sarah Jessica Parker and the Duchess of Cambridge — laughed as he recalled his first experience with Twitter. “I joined so I could talk to Demi Moore,” he said.

On a much more serious note, social media has helped Gurung rally support for his home country of Nepal, which has experienced two severe earthquakes in recent weeks. With the help of many in the fashion industry, Gurung has so far raised more than $700,000 for relief efforts. (To donate, visit shikshyafoundationnepal.org.)

“We all have a platform,” he said. “It’s how you decide to use it.”