02/09/2013 03:52 EST | Updated 04/11/2013 05:12 EDT

At NY Fashion Week, Gurung finds inspiration in strong women changing the world

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Military touches are shorthand in high fashion for strength and confidence. Prabal Gurung added some exclamation points in the fall collection he put on the runway Saturday at New York Fashion Week.

He very specifically cited as his muse a woman in combat.

There has been much in the news — and Gurung is a newshound — about the Pentagon's decision to open more on-the-ground options to women and also technological advances in women's body armour.

"They're redesigning the whole uniform for women because all this while they've been wearing men's uniform," he said in a backstage interview.

That led Gurung to think about women's empowerment, all the way to women he read about from the Ukraine who are coming together in self-defence against human trafficking.

That translated into smart jackets with gold hardware and some with red-and-black brocades, crisp navy suits, and leather harnesses over stretch-crepe dresses with sexy slashes on the bodice and asymmetric peplums and hemlines.

There had to be a little femininity mixed in with the aggressiveness, Gurung explained, because it's femininity that gives women their best tool "to rule a man's world."

Gurung has been ruling some best-dressed lists with Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence and Zoe Saldana among those turning out in his modern twist on Hollywood dressing.

Will the military theme make it to the Academy Awards?

"Hopefully someone is empowered and brave enough to wear it to the Oscars," Gurung said.


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