Photography by Trevor Smith

Prabal Gurung

Designer

| Greenwich Village

We can’t help but wonder what qualifies as Prabal Gurung’s ultimate “pinch me” moment— was it launching his own label back in 2009? Perhaps dressing FLOTUS Michelle Obama or The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton? Winning the CFDA Swarovski Award for womenswear, the gold standard for designer accolades? Or, could it be raising nearly $1 million in earthquake relief for his native Nepal? We’re not so sure even the designer could pick just one. Born in Singapore and raised in Kathmandu, Gurung’s far-flung background has no doubt contributed to his success: it’s not only informed his designs (think Mongolian fur-trimmed coats and vivid earth tones), but it’s given him one of the most authentic and idiosyncratic voices in fashion today— really, who else could pull off starting a runway show with 30-some Buddhist monks chanting in unison? In effect, his clothes inspire emotion— whether that’s strength (thigh-high slit pencil dresses), romance (fluted skirts) or compassion (glimmering gold gowns as homage to the aforementioned monks and Nepali natural disaster). We can totally see why Gurung bestie and fellow CP contrib Nell Diamond chose to don one of his designs on the happiest day of her life, her wedding—that pretty much sums up our dream day too. Here, the designer sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Omen (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) on Thompson Street— the sashimi is always so fresh and delicious; Blue Ribbon Sushi (MAP IT, x)— the miso soup is to die for; Cafe Mogador (MAP IT, x) in the East Village has the best tagines; Café Gitane (MAP IT, x) in Nolita— everyone must say to get the avocado toast, but I actually really enjoy the Moroccan couscous and the carrot salad.

COFFEE OR TEA: Nepalese tea that I make at home; it tastes like home and reminds me of my family in Nepal. What better way to start the morning than that?

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Indochine (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)— everything is always great, but I absolutely love the ribs, crab cakes and spicy shrimp; Ootoya (MAP IT, x) and Omen have the best Japanese food, and I love K-Town and everything there; Sant Ambroeus (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for early morning breakfast— it’s the new fashion cafeteria; Mission Chinese (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is amazing; and I do love Marlow and Sons (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) as well.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A Ketel One martini with a twist from Café Clover in the West Village (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). 

DINNER WITH FRIENDS: Indochine or Café Clover, followed by karaoke at my place.

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: The Lower East Side—I first lived down there when I moved to NY, and the mix of the glamour with the grit make it truly feel like New York. 

MUSIC PICK: I listen to a lot of music; it depends on my mood. I go from classical to Indian classical to Radiohead, Kings Of Leon, Cat Power, Bob Dylan and Stevie Nicks to Bollywood to Beyoncé to all of the top hits– it really depends on what the mood requires. Some days, I’m dancing to Beyoncé at Boom Boom Room (MAP IT, x); other days, it’s discovering newer artists at Bowery Ballroom (MAP IT, x). I’ve also been really into the new Radiohead album lately and Patti Smith is always a classic for me. 

BEST BRUNCH: I don’t typically like brunch, but if I’m going to do it, it is at Sant Ambroeus

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Walking around Brooklyn.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Café Clover for the best healthy dinner– it’s the most chic, yet understated place; I just love it there. For lunch, Dean & DeLuca (MAP IT, x) for salmon donburi.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Spicy Korean food from Korea Town.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: This amazing Nepalese restaurant in Queens where I took SJP for dinner; it’s called Mustang Thakali Kitchen (MAP IT, x). But, YAK in Queens (MAP IT, x) is equally as good. The real joy is that there is a new Nepali restaurant on Lexington and 27th Street called Dhaulagiri (MAP IT, x) that just opened.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The skyline, the people and the hustle.

REGULAR AT: I regularly walk through McNally Jackson on Prince Street (MAP IT, x) and The Strand by Union Square (MAP IT, x). I can get lost in the shelves at The Strand and always feel transported to another time in there. Insider tip: let yourself go wherever the books take you that day; also, there are often gems with great personal notes and stories in the bargain bins.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: My bedroom… But, Blue Hill (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for date night is simply the best.

DELIVERY GO-TO: I order delivery on the Caviar app; the food really depends on what I feel like in the moment, but it’s always something spicy.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: The Met Gala.

TO GET INSPIRED: The Met (MAP IT, x), The New Museum (MAP IT, x), Hauser & Wirth (MAP IT, x), Gagosian Gallery (MAP IT, x), and the streets of NYC.

GO-TO GETAWAY: If not home to Nepal, I really like Anguilla and the South of France. I prefer to wander and explore the local restaurants and shops rather than research and make reservations before my trips. India, London and Paris are my favorite places for short visits.

SUMMER IN THE CITY: An ideal summer night starts with early cocktails while hanging out with my close friends, followed by an early dinner and a night full of dancing and music. It doesn’t matter what spots I go to as long as I’m surrounded by the people I care about. 

CLOSET CHECK: My style is relatively relaxed and modern—I’ll often pair our own tee shirts (I collect vintage white tees from all across the world) and knits with track pants or jeans. However, when I do dress for formal occasions, it’s always bespoke Antonio Azzuolo; no one makes a suit like him.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My interior style is eclectic minimal. I am fortunate enough to collect some great pieces of art from talented artists who inspire me such as Cecily Brown, Sterling Ruby, Elizabeth Peyton and Christopher Wool. I also infuse my New York home with art, photos and momentos from Nepal and my travels around the world.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: I find the softest cashmere wraps and the best teas in Nepal which I like to bring back to New York as gifts, but in New York, I like John Derian (MAP IT, x) or [gifting] books from The Strand.

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: Tim Nolan (x) at Serge Normant at John Frieda (MAP IT, x) for hair.

FIT PICK: I have personal training sessions with Andy Speer (x) or Ryan Hopkins (x) a few times a week. When I don’t work out with them, I’ll go to Equinox SoHo (MAP IT, x). I try to work out 4-5 days a week. 

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Nothing beats Shakespeare in the Park. My all-time favorite moment was when Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline did Romeo and Juliet. I almost died. CP

Prabal’s New York

From L to R: First Row:

From L to R: First Row: Oysters from Marlow & Sons; Garments by Antonio Azzuolo; Artwork by Christopher Wool; Lazio Skin Products. Second Row: Inside John Derian; The New Museum; A Negroni at Café Clover; Café Gitane.

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