Dark, Divine and Seductive

Fresh off runway success, New York-based designer, Bibhu Mohapatra, reveals what’s bubbling in his crucible, including the fact that someday, he’d love to design saris

FW 2011 by Bibhu Mohapatra.Pic courtesy: Simon Howell

Your Fall-Winter 2011 at the Mercedez BenzNew York Fashion Week, is the ‘purest of your works’…

It is a collection I have designed with least amount of inhibitions, I sort of let it all go and pursued the path of pure sinister glamour.

‘Dark’, ‘Sinister’, with Mozart’s “Requiem” playing in the background. Your colleague, Raquel Laneri, compared entering your presentation room to entering a ‘Gothic cathedral during mass’. Describe the whole experience.
The presentation was at the Lincoln Center in New York, where the official NYFW tents are hoisted. The presentation set was designed to look like the interiors of a ruin of a gothic church with snow coming through the broken ceiling. All the 33 models were strategically placed on a huge white crucifixion cross. Some stood like soldiers and some of them lounged on stools. The music was Mozart mixed with regular infusion of Daft Punk techno into it. It was very moody, intense and moving. Once people were inside the presentation space they did not want to leave, instead they came up close to the clothes and touched them.

Describe the woman who should ideally wear your collection?
She is smart, educated, with a passion for something other than being a ‘fashionista’. Someone who is well-travelled and well-read, someone who appreciates beautifully crafted clothes. She can be of any age group.

What is your fashion forecast for the year ahead?
Clean architectural silhouettes are getting stronger and prominent, however, the 70s vibe is on its way out.

You seem to have a fascination for feathers, hair, fur…
Nature is amazing and the human body is most comfortable around things derived from nature, be it silk, cotton, leather, fur or feathers.

Having Indian roots generally mean that there will be a splash of bright colours, rich textures and heavy embroidery. Your Fall-Winter 2011 collection defies all of that with its edginess and Gothic appeal. Where did you channel this trait from?
Yes, there is this perception that Indian heritage would mean bright colours and heavy embroidery, and there are some major beautiful works being done by some of the most amazing designers inIndia and other parts of the world. My Indian heritage is always with me, but I tend to appreciate the more muted, earthy, less literal side of it. This season it was dark, mysterious and moody. This is how I felt after I re-read Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”. I wanted to touch two extreme sides of human nature.

Look 25 is a marriage of the fluid and the fitted. Which do you think will rule the season/catwalk — the fluid and drapey or the fitted and structured?
I think for the day it is more fitted and structured and for the night it is going to be fluid and drapey, and for the true Geminis, like myself, it will be a fusion of the two, like the Black ‘Nocturna’ gown in Look 25!

Being from Orissa, famous for the Katkis and Sambalpuris, do you see yourself designing saris sometime in future?
Yes, I would love nothing more than spending some time in Orissa, travelling to villages and working with weavers to create some amazing saris. I hope that day comes soon. The Katkis, the Sambalpuris, the Bomkais are all so inspiring. Nothing compares to the craft that comes out of my homeland.

Name one Indian woman you’d love to dress and why.
Sonam Kapoor. She is an amazingly talented artiste with a very natural ease in her beauty. She remains her own self, irrespective of what she wears. She comes across as a strong ideal woman that I would typically love to dress.

(Published first in The Times of India)


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