Days away from debuting his eighty-plus piece collection with Target and a Fall 2013 runway collection at Lincoln Center, designer Prabal Gurung found himself back at an award ceremony for rising stars hosted by the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation, where he was a recipient just three years earlier. “Dare to dream and live it,” were his words of wisdom to industry newbies. Here, he dishes on the best advice he was given and who he wishes had an affordable line at his favorite retailer growing up.
ESSENCE.com: What is the one key piece of advice you would give to rising stars in the industry?
PRABAL GURUNG: I always say the only way to be is yourself, really your authentic self, because the minute you try to be someone else and put up this air, people are going to see through it. The only way to be is yourself in general — that’s what makes you cool, that’s what makes you successful, just being very honest. I know it sounds very clichéd, [but] in an industry that’s often filled with fabulousness, it’s very rare that you meet people that are genuine, so it’s good to follow that.
ESSENCE.com: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
GURUNG: Mrs. [Carolina] Herrera, who is my mentor, she told me, “You know you have a great career ahead of you. One thing I never want you to do is listen to critics.” That’s the advice that I think about. And it’s not that she was trying to be mean. What she was implying is that you’ve got to listen to your own voice and own instinct. I have a great respect for her.
ESSENCE.com: After seasons of designing, how do you continue to stay inspired? What do you look to?
GURUNG: Girls. Thats it. While one gets inspired by music and art and everything that you see, to me nothing is far more inspiring than women. That’s who I make clothes for.
ESSENCE.com: We’re excited about your affordable Target collaboration, debuting in a couple of days. Growing up, which designer do you wish had an accessible line with a retailer that you loved?
GURUNG: Everyone. [Laughs] I would say Yves Saint Laurent. I always wished because I couldn’t afford it.
ESSENCE.com: Who are your favorite fashion Instagrammers to follow?
GURUNG: Recently a good friend of mine — Tina Laakonen, she’s a stylist — directed me towards Michel Gauberd. He does all the music for the great shows in Paris like Dior. I don’t think there’s anyone on Instagram that’s more genius than he is.
Shop the designer’s collection on February 10 at Target.