prabal gurung buddhist monks
Designer Prabal Gurung surrounded by Buddhist monks at the opening of his spring 2016 NYFW runway show. Photo: Courtesy of Prabal Gurung / @prabalgurung

Prabal Gurung's New York Fashion Week (NYFW) collection has made waves in the industry, both for its warm palette and gorgeous but simple dresses, as well as the way it was presented.

According to Fashionista, Gurung, who has been working hard to raise awareness about the nation’s plight following the Nepal earthquake earlier this year, took the opportunity to convey his gratitude to the fashion community and express his continuing commitment to his homeland before his spring 2016 runway show commenced.

He invited a group of robed Buddhist monks on to the stage, and there was pin-drop silence when they chanted a traditional prayer. The presence of the monks reflected the inspiration behind the collection, with the show notes commenting that Gurung had been inspired by a peaceful monastery located near his childhood home. Further references to the monks could be seen in the colour palette of the dresses featured; the use of gold and orange-infused shades reminded of the monks’ robes.

The Nepal earthquake took place on April 25. It killed more than 9,000 people, injured over 23,000 people and was the worst natural disaster to impact Nepal since the Nepal-Bihar earthquake in 1934. In immediate response to the disaster, Gurung created a fund that has so far raised nearly a million dollars to help relief efforts.

Gurung’s show isn't the only one at this year’s NYFW to touch on current events and social issues.

For example, Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond's collection extensively explored the pressing social issues of racism and police brutality. The show opened with a short film about victims of police brutality, including Eric Garner and Marlan Brown.

Jean-Raymond stated that addressing these social issues was his primary motivation, according to The Huffington Post. "I wasn't even going to show the collection. I wasn't 100% sold on showing the collection. I wanted to just show the video, open the doors and let everyone out," he said. The designer considers the subject matter of the collection to be deeply personal, as he says that between the ages of 12 and 18 he was stopped-and-frisked 12 times.

Commenting on what he wanted to achieve through the show, he told The Huffington Post, "If one person decides that I'm going to give a black kid a job now because the narrative I've been seeing on TV of him being a thug may or may not be true, I did my job. I changed one life and one life might change another life -- and that's how the world changes. Little by little."

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