It was a privilege to speak with Bibhu Mohapatra himself, as I learned about where he drew his inspiration from, and about the cultural innovations and multi-cultural influences on his newest runway collection at New York Fashion Week (NYFW).
Taking inspiration from a pre-war, Parisian era of art and literature, Bibhu Mohapatra graced the runway with womenswear that was intricately detailed, a juxtaposition of yesteryears and modernism and a show with a message. With a course in history of showcasing the identities of damsels from La Belle Époque (The Beautiful Era), the artistic pre-World War I era of Western Europe came to life. It reminded me of Robert Geller‘s inspiration from a post war Berlin, showcasing how art could truly infuse life into the darkest of situations. Truly, without art, the e-art-h would be eh.
The show talked about an optimistic outlook towards life. As a broader message, Bibhu Mohapatra wanted to dispel negativity in the modern world. And indeed the collection was fairly playful, and not as serious as one would expect from classical evening wear. There were the usual embellishments and textured fabrics, or the gowns in organza, mesh, feathers, silk, and lace, with unmistakable sunglasses for the prohibited era. The feel was one of vibrancy, which started off as less casual and became more black tie. And for those with an eye for detail, all shoes were by Christian Louboutin.
The show started with feminine designs in cotton lace, with sheer purple colors shining atop black and white stripes. The elongated stripes trend continued with knee length dresses and skirts, some clean and contemporary with metal or orange and black accents, with urban edginess in silk and linen, while others had more layered fabrics, including an overcoat.
There was then a transition to florals and metallics, with organza, feathers, tulle and florals on the staple lace of the season, and a peak of metal and silver. Without opting for overtly feminine prints, the styles were definitely artistic and fulfilling.
Transitioning to nightwear, the frocks gave way for silk and linen fabrics. Reds were followed by golds, shimmering silks with sparkling sequins and everything spelled illustrious evening wear. The sequin appliques and embroideries were luscious, hidden below plush red velvet on red, making their way in black and silver on a purple gown, and woven into leaves on satin ballgowns and off shoulder lace dress.
One epic pearlescent gown with literal pearls, a common staple in the era of the moment, and a personal favorite stone after diamonds. The pearls decorated an ethereal corset style top, with a sheer puff dress and sleeves.
Seeking art in an era of dark times, the collection was truly inspiring, infusing creativity and evoking real inspiration. The outcome was a splendid fashion collection, and an important lesson for life.