By Kate Jacobsen
When Bibhu Mohapatra came to the W Hotel Chicago to debut his new A/W ’12 recently, TheWorkingWardrobe was on-hand to catch a quick interview with the New York-based designer. The interview was a collaborative effort with LAUNDRYMAGAZINE‘s Editor-in-Chief Kelsey Kreiling. In between constant distractions from photographers, show-goers and friends, we were able to squeeze in a few questions to give you more insight on his current collections and how they translate into your working wardrobe.
LaundryMagazine: Tell us about this collection. What makes you excited about it? What do you love about it?
Bibhu Mohapatra: I have been working on costumes for a production of the off-Broadway version of Aida, which debuts at the end of July. Since I have been doing opera work for some time, I wanted to base this collection off of an operatic character. I found an old Chinese opera called The White-Haired Girl. It was inspired by the woman’s [Xi’er] strength, courage and what she had to do in imperial China. A lot of reds and symbolic blood stains [were used throughout the collection because] she spends her whole life fighting for love and in the end, she finds it. This [collection] is the celebration of that.
TheWorkingWardrobe: How do you think your brand and collection can contribute and fit into the Chicago fashion scene?
BM: I think it’s the range of [the collection]. Also, my aesthetic is very pure. I think Chicago fashion sense is very pure. [Purity] comes from here. [The Collection and brand] fit right in.
LM: Do you have a favorite piece?
BM: This one. I love the simplicity of it. The print is not actually flowers. It’s fabrics gathered together then photographed and photographed again.
LM: Did you and your team design the prints?
BM: This is my print. I do one every season. We have this one in a few colors.
TWW: How would you describe your quint-essential customer?
BM: Strong, confident. Someone who is passionate about things like having a family, loving music or writing. A real woman who is really all about her own self.
TWW: What is your take on luxury fashion in the workplace?
BM: Luxury is comfort. Luxury is versatility. A good quality, well-made piece of work wear is pure luxury. It doesn’t always have to be expensive. I think it’s much more essential to have a beautifully-tailored suit or a dress that you wear to work that maintains its shape, its quality and you feel comfortable in. That’s luxury.
TWW: If you could pick a piece from your S/S ’12 and your A/W ’12 for the working environment, which ones would you pick and why?
BM: “There is this one black dress with a sheer panel from Spring 2012 with a shiny strap at the waist. From the A/W ’12 Collection, I would say that “- Bibhu points to the below dress going down the runway on the reel playing in the background. “I think with a little red or white jacket, this would be perfect.”
LM: What is coming up for you? What are you excited about next?
BM: My opera that is going to be opening in July, Aida. I’m excited about the next collections.
Designer Bibhu Mohapatra showed an interest in fashion at an early age by designing clothes for his sister. Bibhu’s love of sumptuous Indian fabrics, vibrant colors, and the crafts of his native land have been the inspiration behind his elegant designs. Bibhu moved to New York City and enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology after completing his Master’s degree in economics. While working on his design degree, he honed his design skills as an assistant designer for the iconic American fashion label Halston.
The Fashion Institute of Technology applauded Bibhu for his skill and design aesthetic and awarded him the prestigious Critic’s Award for Best Evening Wear Designer during his senior year. This recognition helped catapult his design career to the next level.
Bibhu went on to work for J. Mendel under Gilles Mendel. Bibhu’s talent and style were brought to life by his glamorous gowns and work with magnificent furs. After his tenure as the design director at J. Mendel, Bibhu recognized the demand for his work, transitioned out of his role and began designing custom couture evening gowns, cocktail dresses, and furs for a select group of private clients in New York, Europe and India.
Bibhu’s namesake label launched with his first collection during New York Fashion Week in February 2009. The Bibhu Mohapatra collection is currently sold at select boutiques around North America, Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. It is also available at esteemed stores like New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus in various cities in the United States.
In January 2010, he was a finalist for Women’s Apparel 2010 Rising Star Award by The Fashion Group International. In May 27, 2010, Bibhu received the “Young Innovator Award” from the National Arts Club. In June 2010, Bibhu became a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. In January 2011 Bibhu Mohapatra received the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award.