2019 Great Immigrants Recipient

Prabal Gurung
Fashion Designer and Founder, Prabal Gurung
Born in:

Prabal Gurung was born in Singapore to Nepalese parents and raised by a single mother in Kathmandu. He studied fashion design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, India, and apprenticed with the Indian designer Manish Arora. Gurung decided to move to the United States after watching The Oprah Winfrey Show. Delivering the keynote at the Teen Vogue Summit in 2018, he said, “I had no idea who she was. I had just come back from India, and I was back home in Nepal, and there was this show about living your dreams.” Gurung relocated to New York City in 1999 to attend the Parsons School of Design, interning with Donna Karan during his studies. He went on to work with Cynthia Rowley and served as the design director at Bill Blass for five years. In 2009 he launched his own collection, known for its formal evening wear, structured pieces, vibrant color palettes, and clothes accentuating the waist. A year later Gurung received the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award. His designs are now a familiar sight on the red carpet, with pieces worn by some of the world’s most high-profile women, including Kate Middleton, Priyanka Chopra, and the original source of his inspiration, Oprah Winfrey. More than 80 percent of Gurung’s collection is produced in New York City, reflecting his commitment to supporting local workers. He has also championed inclusivity in the fashion world by featuring models of diverse backgrounds and partnering with the plus-size retailer Lane Bryant. Gurung has highlighted Nepal in his collections, including by incorporating the embroidery of Nepalese artisans, and his success is a source of pride in his home country. In 2011 Gurung and his siblings established the Shikshya Foundation Nepal, which focuses on childhood education. A U.S. citizen since 2013, Gurung has voiced his support for immigrants’ rights on and off the runway. One of the T-shirts from Gurung’s Fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection was emblazoned: “I am an immigrant.”