Fashion was not meant to be the focus during this week’s inauguration, but the swearing in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris became a runway anyway. We witnessed independent designers on the main stage, a show of unity through the color purple, Dior Air Jordans, and mittens becoming the accessory of the year. On the tail end of the historic event, Harris continued her streak of using fashion as a vehicle for promoting designers we should be paying attention to. While attending a prayer service yesterday, a tradition that dates back to George Washington’s inauguration, Harris wore a custom, berry-colored set by Nepalese American designer Prabal Gurung, a continuation of the purple thread woven earlier this week. Gurung, who is no stranger to dressing high-powered women (Michelle Obama and Oprah are fans), has a track record of trying to do what’s right on the runway. During his 10th anniversary show in 2019, he posed the question “Who gets to be American?”, using fashion to examine and criticize the previous president’s handling of the country. The designer is known for inclusive casting, calling out racial injustice, and using his platform to advocate for change. Born in Singapore, raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, and now based in New York City, Gurung is living the American Dream, one made even brighter when Harris stepped out in his designs. Harris’ decision to wear Gurung solidifies the power style can have and the importance of top-down support for indie brands. Gurung reflects on what it meant to see our first female, Black, and South Asian Vice President wear his clothes and why we need to continue doing the work. Read on for our interview with the designer below.
Vice President Kamala Harris (2nd-L) and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden (R), listen to the national anthem as they watch the virtual presidential inaugural prayer service.
Alex WongGetty Images
As an immigrant, how did it feel to witness our first South Asian Vice President (and the daughter of immigrants) being sworn in? This week has been incredibly emotional for me. I came to the United States to realize my American Dream of becoming a fashion designer. Having been born in Singapore, raised in Nepal and India, and then living in Australia and London, I always looked at the United States as a land of endless possibilities. My story, and what I have been…