Collection for fall/winter 2023 by Bibhu Mohapatra
Another season, another inspiration? With each collection, it seems as though Bibhu Mohapatra expands his pantheon of powerful women by one or two names. The heiress, author, activist, and fashion designer Nancy Cunard, who was famously captured by Man Ray in 1926 wearing stacks of bangles and who served as the inspiration for a 2015 Mohapatra collection, piqued his interest once more for the fall season. The designer explained that while travelling on the Cunard transatlantic line from New York to Southampton, he came across her biography, and that is how he first met his muse. The designer recited Cunard’s poem “Wheels” at the beginning and end of the fall show because, as she said backstage, it “points towards what I want to be as a person.”
More poetry would have been welcome in Mohapatra’s collection. Occasionally, there were hints of it—for example, a bow on the back of a dress or the gentle fall of a pleated dress—but overall, it mostly followed well-worn paths. Mohapatra is your go-to source for embellishments, plissé, and dramatic sleeve treatments (this season, it was a cutout at the shoulder). The embroidery on tulle always delights; one such outfit in lightest blue was an airy treat. Pairing a translucent black and jewelled tunic with slacks was unexpected and looked futuristic. Two pantsuits, one for day in deep brown and one for evening in a metallic tweed, continued that thought.
Now that the designer is also a merchant, having created his own shop, separates are becoming a more prominent element of his portfolio. A midi skirt with embroidery was a charming idea, but it could have been better in a weave than the bulky vegan leather that was a feature of this line-up. Also retail-related was Mohapatra’s work with a women-led scarf brand, Janavi India. The designer, who seemed stunning while taking his bow in one of their fringed neck pieces, mentioned that there might be an in-store activation with the company. Despite how gorgeous they were, the scarves were overused in the show’s style and covered up the clothes.