Nothing like a good ol’ ping-pong match and a performance by a legendary rapper to get your weekend started. On Friday, we attended the six-year anniversary of SPiN New York, Susan Sarandon’s ultra cool ping-pong club, alongside Ms. Sarandon herself, Barbara Pierce Bush, Wu-Tang rapper Raekwon and designer Prabal Gurung. The event was a celebration, but also a means to support Pushpa Basnet, one of CNN’s Heroes of the Year, who started an Early Childhood Development Center in Nepal.
Throughout the night, we played ping-pong, danced and listened to some live music, most notably by Raekwon who brought down the house with his set that pretty much had everyone in the venue hollering, “Wu! Tang! Wu! Tang!” But before we got cookin’ with The Chef, we had to have our fashion moment and sat down with Gurung for a chat. The designer had just shown an impressive Spring 2016 collection and was on hand to support the cause. Gurung has been active in the relief efforts after the Nepal earthquake earlier this year, but he says there is still a lot of work to be done.
“After the earthquake, we’ve been raising money and we’ve started rebuilding shelters and hospitals. Our main focus has been on education and primarily girls, but now we’re including boys,” he told us. “I think it’s a new normal for people back home in Nepal. Things haven’t improved, I will say, but the Nepalese people are very resilient, so hopefully things will get better. Right now, the international organizations and countries have pledged $4.4 billion to rebuild, but the government hasn’t been able to actively permit it already. So, there are a lot of infrastructure issues.”
Gurung has been working tirelessly to raise money and there was an opportunity to raise some more on Friday, thanks in part to the lyrical stylings of Raekwon who was on hand to “rap for relief.” Gurung admitted he’s a Wu-Tang fan and first got introduced to the rap group when he was a student at Parsons. “My roommate was a white guy from upstate New York who was really into them and it was such a funny thing. He was a character, he was an artist and my first introduction to them was through him. He used to listen to them all the time while painting.”
Sadly, Gurung didn’t spit any bars for us (yeah, we asked if he could rap), but he did weigh in on another buzzy topic that evening: The Forbes list of highest paid supermodels that had just come out. Kendall Jenner made her debut on the Marc Jacobs runway last February and now, she’s a part of Forbes‘ esteemed list of monied muses. Quite an impressive feat. So, we had to ask: What is it about Ms. Jenner that designers love so much?
“Let’s just get rid of her family and everything, on her own, she’s an incredible model and when I’ve met her she’s been one of the nicest people. She acknowledges your presence and she’s very much there. She’s not looking around. She’s very focused and I think that’s what I like about her,” Gurung said. “There are a lot of tall, beautiful girls, but the ones that make it have this thing about them, an awareness of who they are, and they’re very present and that’s how she is. When I’ve met her, I really liked her, but I think her success, obviously besides her presence and everything, she comes with a great sense of business. I’m not surprised she’s one of the highest paid models, she’s very charismatic.”