Bibhu Mohapatra Spring 2021

I don’t believe anything can take the place of a runway show, particularly a good runway show with an exquisite, well-thought out collection. Garments that speak to the fashion designers’ design aesthetic and display the designer’s interpretation of what their consumer wants combined with a brilliant fashion dissertation of what inspired that designer is best presented on a live runway platform.

That said; that expression that so many fashion industry professionals anxiously anticipate is difficult to put into practice this season. Everyone’s health is the most important this season, so the fashion industry is doing the next best thing, digital presentations. Not nearly the same as a live presentation, but what can you do?

For spring 2021 Bibhu Mohapatra was inspired by the revolutionary Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil. “As the 20th century rolled in, India witnessed many changes in its artistic activities. The Bengal school of art produced many artists of repute, some artists in the quest for a change, distanced themselves from the Bengal School.  Amrita Sher-Gil is one such change-maker who revolutionized and challenged the Indian art scene, albeit way ahead of her times.  With her bold and daring approach towards her life and her artistic milieu, [Sher-Gil] charted the path for the future generations of artists who pledged to continue her legacy of change and challenged the norm,” explained Bibhu Mohapatra.  

And to that respect Bihbu Mohapatra infused this spring 2021 collection with Amrita Sher-Gil’s affinity of depicting Indian woman in their natural state of being, whether relaxing at home or socializing with other women. (The only difference between Sher-Gil and Bibhu is that Sher-Gil’s painting are of mostly impoverished East Indian woman while Bibhu collections are made for women with deep pockets.) Still, there is some intersectionality between Mohapatra and Sher-Gil.

As in previous collections, Bibhu Mohapatra demonstrated expertly his acumen with combining silhouettes that on their own are dissimilar. And the fact that these silhouettes are radically opposed to each other when combined adds to some of the charm found in the collections.

There were some noted departures in this spring 2021 collection. One of Bibhu Mohapatra’s signature elements is his use of exquisite embellishments. There was less of that this season, and there were also fewer evening gowns. Perhaps, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Bibhu to focus on more looks that could work for dressy daytime occasions. Or maybe because there were only 26 looks in the collection there was less room for red-carpet gowns.

Images courtesy of JD Urban/Bibhu Mohapatra

Whatever the reason, in this collection Bibhu Mohapatra demonstrated that under duress or straddled with a down economy, his creativity still reigns supreme. And we all the better for it!!

—William S. Gooch


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