How Prabal Gurung Perfected the One Piece Every Plus Fashion Brand Sells
Earlier this week, Ashley Graham and Prabal Gurung joined editors, bloggers, and other industry leaders to celebrate the long-awaited launch of Gurung’s first collaboration with Lane Bryant. Who What Wear sat down with them to find out how they were addressing the ongoing (but improving!) issue of limited fashion-forward plus-size options on the market, but what ensued was not your average interview. In fact, we hardly had to ask any questions at all, because not only are Graham and Gurung knowledgeable about making fashion inclusive for all women, but they’re also contagiously passionate.
It didn’t take much for the friends, colleagues, and collaborators (Graham is the face of Gurung’s LB campaign) to dive right into what makes this collaboration different from everything else out there, and why committing to body diversity is not just a passing trend. Furthermore, Graham also couldn’t wait to call out her favorite pieces, specifically the one item she says every plus fashion brand makes.
Read on for our discussion with two of fashion’s coolest body diversity advocates about the newest plus-size collection, and the pieces you should get your hands on first.
Who What Wear: Prabal, how knowledgeable were you about plus-size clothing before you started this collaboration?
Prabal Gurung: To be completely honest, I wasn’t fully aware of the plus mass market, but I designed for curvy women before. Whether it was Oprah Winfrey or private clients, I was familiar with the technicality but not the volume and scale, so it was a learning experience.
WWW: And Ashley, how quickly did you get involved?
Ashley Graham: I had met Prabal at his show two seasons ago. It had just been announced that Prabal for Lane Bryant was happening, and he made me a custom dress—it was so beautiful and fit me to a T. We’re not accustomed to that as big girls. I’m always tailoring everything. The show was gorgeous, and I waited for everybody to leave, and I went to the back, and I just walked up to him and said, “thank you for doing this for LB.” I’ve been working with Lane Bryant for 15 years, and the fact that they thought to do [designer collaborations] is revolutionary for the industry. But to step up and do something with a high-end designer who’s always been known for his cuts, his fabrics, for the way that he actually puts a gown on a woman that is flattering for her figure, means he’s going to do the exact same thing for us.
PG: I remember the moment she said that she meant it. It stuck in my head. I was working on the collab, and I kept thinking about her. I wanted to celebrate the essence of who she is because when I look at Ashley, I don’t see a curvy girl. She’s amazing. She’s someone who I want to hang out with. She’s interesting. In fashion, we always talk about beauty, but it’s the substance. So when it came time for campaigning, I wanted her. I wanted all the American women, who have been treated like a minority…
AG: When we’re the majority…
PG: 67% of Americans are considered plus size. My intention was that it’s enough already where size 2 is considered the ideal. I’m just bored of this one-dimensional idea of beautiful… I want to watch a movie where the lead protagonist is no longer a size 4 or 2.
AG: And if she is a big girl, it isn’t spoken about.
WWW: And she’s wearing Prabal for LB?
PG: In the movie, she can wear whatever, but when she’s nominated for the Oscar, and she’s winning…
WWW: Okay, let’s talk about the clothes in the collection.
AG: Yes! My favorite piece—you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you—is the trench coat. It’s heavy, and you can feel the quality is there. It’s not some thin, paper, “Oh we put something together quick for you big girls.” No, no. It has this lace-up detailing up the seam, the skirt goes out, it’s navy blue. Everything fits like a dream. I don’t wear clothes don’t love. I would rather be 15 minutes late for a meeting than to not like what I’m wearing.
WWW: How about that black jumpsuit? It can be a very tricky piece for most women with curves, plus or not, to find one that fits properly.
AG: I’m sorry, Prabal, I want to talk about the jumpsuit. Here’s the thing: Every plus-size company makes a black jumpsuit. I don’t know what the fixation is about plus size, curvy, whatever you want to call us, women getting in a black jumpsuit. The difference with this black jumpsuit is the details. It’s a sheer arm, it’s a fixed wrap front. The pants of the leg actually go high to your high waist so you’re able to see an hourglass. It’s so fitted in that area that, even if you carry the majority of your weight in [your middle], it doesn’t matter—you’re going to have created an hourglass, whether you have Spanx on or not.
Tell us in the comments what you think about this new collection, and let us know what you think is still missing from the plus-size market.