Fashion / Style File

Bibhu Mohapatra Tells it by the Book — a Most Personal Fashion Moment

Empowerment in Beauty

BY // 09.29.19

NEW YORK — Bibhu Mohapatra insists there’s “nothing personal” about his spring 2020 collection, which he unveiled at New York Fashion Week. But in fact, the collection is probably his most personal yet.

The 47-year-old designer was inspired by the landmark 1964 book, Nothing Personal, by James Baldwin and Richard Avedon, who documented the state of America at the time. The book, which has recently been reissued, documents the famous and the infamous, from movie stars like Marilyn Monroe to civil rights icons, intellectuals, politicians, pop singers, patients in a Louisiana mental institution and everyday people.

Mohapatra, who recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of his namesake label, used the book as a launching point to create a collection that celebrates “the American beauty and its diverse identity of strength, courage and originality.”

Using such unconventional inspiration seems to have allowed the designer to think creatively outside the box. A loose-fitting blue jumpsuit of radzimir silk has a factory worker vibe for the women who wants to roll up her sleeves and get to work, while dresses vary in length, from a mango crepe mini-dress with crystal embroidery to an ankle-length fitted sheath emblazoned with an embroidered black paradise flower.

Other unique looks include a dress of Supima blue jean denim with an asymmetrical hem and puffy sleeves, and a reinterpretation of the light blue cotton shirt with a Nehru collar and knife-pleated cardigan.

Mohapatra also sends a subtle message of empowerment with a coat and gown embossed with the phrase, “B The One.”

The evening wear is just as eclectic. A tea-length black tulle dress with silver embroidery is accented with an orange harness, emphasizing the dual “hard and soft” nature of dressing, while the closing look, a embroidered ivory and black gown, totally covers up the model, with long sleeves and a high neck, yet has a transparent quality. He also incorporates a bright mango color into several looks, overlaying a mini-dress with a sheer mango pleated tulle and cotton skirt and dotting a ballerina-like mango tulle skirt with crystal medallions.

Other gowns embody full-on glamour — a power blue gown, which is fitted at the waist and flares out at the hemline, and accented with crystal medallions, has a timeless “princess at the ball” quality. In Houston, the collection is available at Elizabeth Anthony.

Many of the looks are accessorized with jewelry designed by Mohapatra in collaboration with Forevermark. The Forevermark Artemis Collection by Bibhu and PMJ Jewels features layered necklaces, cocktail rings, pendant necklaces, earrings, bracelets and cuffs.

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