Prabal Gurung: From Nepal to global fashion stardom
(CBS News) New York City stands to make over $400 million this week at New York Fashion Week and designer Prabal Gurung's runway show will be among the most anticipated of the global fashion event.
And Gurung is taking his look from the runway to the real world, going mass market with his new line for Target.
"I have this ... niche audience, it's at a certain price point ... for me, it's it more about, 'How do I get to the audience, the larger audience, the rest of America and let them know my own story?'"
His rise to success is a story of ambition -- since launching his own line and company just four years ago, his designs have been worn by some of the world's most famous and powerful women -- from the first lady, to the Duchess of Cambridge, to the Oprah Winfrey, who unknowingly helped push Gurung to begin his design journey.
"I was in Nepal and I watched Oprah Winfrey's show. I had no idea as a kid in Nepal who she was. But I remember watching an episode of hers about living your dreams. And I still remember telling my sister, 'You know what? I've never been to America. I want to give it a shot and if it's a mistake, it's a mistake but at least it's my mistake."
Gurung left his family in Nepal 14 years ago, gaining entry into the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York. The up-and-coming designer then worked his way through the fashion ranks alongside the likes of Donna Karan, Cynthia Rowley and Bill Blass, before he decided to start his own company.
"Everyone had told me not to do it," he said of the risky choice to start his own line, "I had no savings, no investors, So I went on unemployment. It is challenging and I'm a creative person, I come from a design background. I don't come from a business background."
But soon enough, Hollywood starlets from Rashida Jones to Zoe Saldana to Demi Moore took note of the young designer, helping to catapult Gurung to star status.Prabal Gurung for Target: See the collection's look book
Prabal Gurung: Diane von Furstenberg is an "amazing diva" and mentor
Some of his big breaks have been outside of the traditional, Hollywood-centric fashion world, like when Michelle Obama donned his dresses in 2010 and 2011. Gurung acknowledges he has worked closely with the White House, but shied away from offering details about the working relationship.
He told CBS News' Norah O'Donnell that he was again "shocked" when Kate Middleton took Gurung global, wearing his dress on her official trip to Asia. He had not sent the clothes to the Duchess, and recalling the moment, he said "I don't know how it happened and I was in shock."
Despite his staggering success, he remains acutely aware that his in an industry many consider "frivolous," a claim he says he understands. However, he said, "Let's not forget that the fashion industry is a billion dollar industry. It generates employment."
Over the weekend, celebrities flocked to Gurung's show in New York as expected and this week, his style will be available at a much lower price point through his Target collection.
So what would Gurung say to his younger self, the little boy in Nepal?
"I'm a little emotional about it," he said, "I would say, 'You'll turn out just fine.'"
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