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A talk with Prabal Gurung, the famous Nepalese-American designer who unveiled his first jewelry collection for Tasaki

Tasaki Aura ring, Nacreous ring and moulin ring by Prabal Gurung

Last July, the Japanese brand Tasaki showcased at the Ritz in Paris the first high jewelry collection imagined by the New-York based designer Prabal Gurung. What to expect about this collaboration? Forward-looking pieces that exude femininity and modernity, we were lucky enough to sit down with Prabal to talk further about his first high jewelry collections and this new challenge.

Author By Marie-Caroline Selmer

What is your first collection inspired by? 

My first inspiration came from different places: one was the Tasaki pearl farms in Japan where I was able to discover their craftmanship only to realize the time they spend to make one perfect pearl. It takes 24 months to get one perfect pearl!  All this process inspires me. Surrealism was another part of my inspiration but it was more about a woman’s gaze on woman’s work. It was inspired by this idea of free forms and free thinking. The “Dream Awake” exhibition at the White cube gallery in London which was about the work of contemporary female Surrealist artists on woman’s body made quite an impression on me. I found it very empowering and beautiful because it was with a woman’s point of view which I thought was very off the moment. That’s all these three came together!

Tasaki x Prabal Gurung - Cove earrings mounted on white gold set with diamonds and Akoya pearls
Tasaki x Prabal Gurung – Cove earrings mounted on white gold set with diamonds and Akoya pearls

You come from the fashion sphere, designing for your own label and others brands, how different is it to design jewelry?

When the opportunity arose, I was very excited! First of all, I was finally going to be able to work with the best materials out there: diamonds, pearls and stones to the level of craftmanship that I wanted. That to me was really inspiring because when you make ready-to-wear collections you are just addressing one aspect of a woman’s wardrobe. With jewelry, it almost feels like a full stop to a sentence. It is a way to continue the conversation of these beautiful, powerful and intelligent women that inspire me in my work.

About the creative process, there wasn’t anything challenging. Actually it’s a mix of inspirations. The real difference is about technical challenges. When you are making ready-to-wear clothes you are creating something covering the entire body the creating process goes faster versus in jewelry you only select body parts: the ears, the neck, the wrist where you need to be very meticulous and thoughtful about the way you are crafting things.

Tasaki is worldly known for its amazing Akoya pearls, what did you feel in working with them?

I’m going to tell you something that I said to my team: “Diamonds are girl’s best friend but pearls are a girl’s soulmate” that’s what I feel because there is so much history to a pearl. Pearls are often seen like a heirloom jewelry but I wanted to take pearls out of that and to modernize them. That’s why I mixed them with different shapes, metals, diamonds and color stones and presented it. If you think about what makes style or fashion modern is the context: Who is wearing it? Where is it being shown? How is a woman wearing it? I had everything in mind when we did the first collection and presented on the runway with all the models. Gigi Hadid was the first one I saw pulling off pearls wearing a short blazer and tank top. We had all these young girls from various ethnicity that were wearing pearls in different ways.

Tasaki x Prabal Gurung - Gigi Hadid wearing the Cascade earrings from the Surrealism collection, mounted on white gold with akoya pearls and South sea pearls
Tasaki x Prabal Gurung – Gigi Hadid wearing the Cascade earrings from the Surrealism collection, mounted on white gold with akoya pearls and South sea pearls

What did you want to express through this collection? How do you want women to feel while wearing your pieces?

I wanted them to feel their individual self, to feel assured and confident.

In a world where everybody is obsessed comparing themselves with one another, I just wanted my woman when she is wearing this particular piece of jewelry to feel like: “Ok, this is me and that’s enough. I’m worth it”!

Who is the ideal woman for Tasaki? 

A beautiful woman with intelligence and substance. I always say she is a world-traveler, a woman with a curious mind that challenges you. The Tasaki-woman is the woman I want to sit across at a dinner to have a conversation with. For me, the ideal woman is someone who truly understands that the biggest strength for her comes from embracing her femininity because there is so much power to it.

About the way to wear jewels, women are said to look more and more for everyday luxury pieces, is that a trend you take an eye for while sketching your collection?

I always feel that a woman’s life is not one dimensional and this is the reason why I design women’s wear. I find the thinking process complex, dynamic and very interesting. No day looks like the other, women share their time between work, business meetings, lunch with their girlfriends and their family. I want to be able to address these moments with my collection and this is why you will find high end pieces but also everyday pieces, specifically the one that you can wear when interviewing a designer! (Laughing)

How did you manage to create statement pieces so modern and so easy-to-wear specially when it comes to earrings?

I’m lucky that I’m surrounded with real friends, modern and very vocal!  As a creative person, you have to listen, watch and see everything. All your senses have to be awaken to trigger your inspiration and take the most out of it. This is how I look at the world and create jewels to offer women statement pieces that bring them the most joy.

Tasaki x Prabal Gurung - Moulin ring mounted on yellow gold with Akoya pearls
Tasaki x Prabal Gurung – Moulin ring mounted on yellow gold with Akoya pearls
Tasaki x Prabal Gurung - Aurora Necklace mounted on Sakuragold and white gold with South sea pearl and diamonds
Tasaki x Prabal Gurung – Aurora Necklace mounted on Sakuragold and white gold with South sea pearl and diamonds
Tasaki - Nacreous hand cuff mounted on white gold with Akoya pearls and South sea pearls set with yellow sapphires and diamonds
Tasaki x Prabal Gurung – Nacreous hand cuff mounted on white gold with Akoya pearls and South sea pearls set with yellow sapphires and diamonds