‘Crafts that are ancient or dying or actively being reinvented- those crafts speak to me,’ says Bibhu Mohapatra
Indian designer Bibhu Mohapatra’s mother, Sashikala, instilled in him at an early stage a near-obsession with handwork and textiles and that has become one of the core aspects of his design aesthetics. The designer, who was born in Odisha but moved to the US in 1996, work means going back to the idea of crafts. “Crafts that are ancient or dying or actively being reinvented- those crafts speak to me,” believes Mohapatra, who is one of the celebrated names in the international fashion scene, with designs that are a reflection of the rich art and crafts of his homeland .
And that’s why he has his plans in place for bringing his namesake brand to his home country.
“As a brand, we want to make sure it’s done the right way when we have our brand presence in India. I take it very seriously and I have all the plans to bring my namesake brand home. I want to do it with the right partners and want to make sure we deliver the right product at the right price point with the right quality, ”he told Firstpost in an interview.
In 2008, Mohapatra launched his namesake label with a private order of just three coats and quickly became known for his structured silhouettes and bold designs.
The designer, who has recently showcased his 2022 fall / winter show in Utah, says that he is completely aware that the modern Indian consumer is extremely savvy of the most discerning taste.
“We want to make sure we deliver a product that is smartly designed, that is ethically made, and made well that could last beyond a season for her that finds room in her closet for the longest period of time because she can use those pieces to tell many stories, ”said Mohapatra.
Incorporating traditional Odisha weaves into his collections is his specialty, especially introducing the rich ikat textiles of his home state to audiences in the West.
With its launch in India, the designer wants to focus on that aspect in the most effective way possible.
“I think we are sitting on a massive mine of traditional crafts and the heritage of incredible textiles that varies from state to state.”
“There is so much to say and so much to do with the people of India and it all goes back to that. So, when I bring the collection to India, I would be collaborating with artisans from all over to tell each of their stories one by one over collections. I would also like to take that opportunity to share the same products and collection globally so that the artisans from India also get a platform to show their workmanship so that we can tell their stories to our global clientele. ”
Talking about being a regular name in Indian fashion weeks just like the way he does internationally, he said he did it once but for next time, he wants to make sure they follow up with a range of products.
“So, maybe when we launch in India that’s when we would be doing events, fashion shows, presentations, or creating films to launch different products. These days there are many ways people communicate stories about their collections. People make films, photoshoots, fashion shows, and presentations in many different ways and we want to collaborate with other artists too to figure out what’s the best way to tell that specific story of that specific collection, ”he said.
Mohapatra spoke to Firstpost during his recent Mumbai visit to launch his exclusive Forevermark Artemis Collection on De Beers Forevermark’s e-commerce website.
Talking about the exclusivity of this line, the designer said that it’s more feminine and evolved in the sense that it has a women-centric story.
“This is a collection where I try to bring nature and women together by celebrating their strength and their energy, which to me is one. We zeroed in on one of my favorite flowers – the color lily, which signifies the beginning of everything. We created that as a motif and then we ran it through the entire collection using De Beers Forevermark natural diamonds, ”he said.
There are 4 pieces in the collection and then about 18 derivations which are more of an approachable price point pieces for the commercial purposes for a broader audience. The design will be launched on May 20 on forevermark.com all over India.
Mohapatra has always loved associating with powerful women. In the past, his designs were flaunted by Hollywood stars like Lupita Nyong’O, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Former First Lady Michelle Obama, who chose to wear a Bibhu original for her visit to India.
The designer says that dressing up these powerful ladies liberates and educates him.
“I have learned how to respect women even more properly, how to treat them fairly and how to acknowledge them. Women in my life, women I have never met but I’m inspired by. I treat them with respect and equality and this is all that I’ve learned from the strong women in my life, ”he said.
In 2008, after years of working in other houses, Mohapatra rented what he called a ‘thinking box’ on 73rd AND Broadway. There, he began to lay the foundation for not just the clothes he wanted to make but the deeper principles and values that could drive a bigger vision for what a fashion and design company could become.
And he is happy to see so many Indian designers are doing phenomenally great in the West.
“I think it’s amazing to see a lot of Indian designers, some of them I call my good friends, are getting such attention for their amazing work and on a global platform and I think a lot more has to happen like that be it my friend Tarun, Sabya or Rahul. All these incredible designers have paid their dues and are doing wonderful work, ”says the designer who also wishes to see these names on Madison Avenue.
Nivedita Sharma’s work experience includes covering fashion weeks in Milan, Pakistan, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Dubai, and award functions like IIFA, and TOIFA.
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