Where a collection begins is not always where it ends, as is the case today at Bibhu Mohapatra. The designer cited Insurgent muse, a book by Terry Wolverton on The Women’s Building, founded in Los Angeles in 1973 as a safe space for lesbian and feminist culture, as its inspiration. The pro-women message was reinforced when Mohapatra bowed in a t-shirt that read Her Body = Her Choice (a reference to the anti-abortion ruling in Texas).
Spring’s training was the smallest he had ever done. The embellishments were subdued, and the emphasis was on body-revealing sheaths and columns rather than more voluminous and bulky princess dresses. Ujjwala Raut showed how to wear them with the confidence of a powerful woman. Most of the other actors looked very young and lacked Raut’s presence.
The lightness of the space (Spring Studios) complemented the lightness of the pieces like the dresses in tulle embroidered with crystal. The palette, a lot of ivory and green, was very upbeat. It was the print of the season that felt heavy.
The unexpected addition of fringes added movement and interest to lace dresses. A dress with a chiffon sleeve and a flowing train was a spectacle; as were, in a very different way, the supima denim pieces that paid homage to Claire McCardell. “What could be more American than Claire McCardell ?! Mohapatra exclaimed after the show when asked for his references. With the opening of “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” at the Met, it was a good time, but it was also time for a change, he said.
Mohapatra recently opened his first store, and he now interacts with the women entering, not all of whom are looking for red carpet outfits, although they may desire them. “It’s my nod to having more useful things, more daytime things,” he said. “We really wanted to create a very focused collection to present to the world that we are changing. This message was welcome and well received.