It is surrounded by a sense of cautious optimism as the world steadily gains confidence with vaccination and dropping covid infection numbers. Since July 2020, Bibhu Mohapatra has been back in his studio with his team, slowly rebuilding his company, but with a new perspective. After a major setback due to a natural calamity or war, there is nothing like a reconstruction process.
The brand’s entire emphasis remains on the customer, culture, and craft throughout this reconstruction period. Bibhu, like many, is cautiously positive about our lives together after a restricted capsule collection that Bibhu unveiled for Spring 2021. He wanted to design a collection with that optimism, which reflects beauty integrated with intent.
So Bibhu created a series of 29 looks that he calls his classics for the Fall 2021 collection. He always wanted to design a collection that gave him satisfaction and joy, always striving to create pieces that have durability, and came up with beautiful, meaningful clothes and inspired his customers to look up to brighter evenings and get dressed up again.
This range is made from beautiful and colorful textiles in vivid hues ranging from vegan leathers, custom 3-D lace, sumptuous velvets, double-faced barathea silk, and flocked twill canvas. The collection also features exquisite embroidery layered in art deco designs with Preciosa crystals, pleating, gold leaf foiling and flocking as surface treatments. Many of the silhouettes in the series are from the 11-year-old Bibhu archives of his namesake brand. With architectural & organic details, they are a fine combination of classical & modern. It involves interesting draping, unusual necklines, and a mix of flowing shapes and tailoring. Traditional haute couture techniques combined with the modern proportions of each piece give the collection and youthful yet timeless energy.
The designer has always wanted to discover more remarkable sources of inspiration, and still looks to human stories for the key guiding lines of his compilation process, whether it be the life of Nancy Cunard or the life-long relationship between Richard Avedon and James Baldwin. For the Fall 2021 collection, he draws a parallel between two relationships that flourished about two decades apart, in two different parts of the world. Both are the relationships between an artist and his trailblazing muse.
One is the magic of the Harlem revival between A’Lelia Walker and Langston Hughes, and the other is Gustave Klimt and Emily Flöge’s decades-long companionship. The creativity that stemmed from these relationships was also the primary commonality, and both relationships remain nameless. Were they lovers? Or was it more platonic? There have been many speculations over decades but what was the most beautiful in both stories was the bond that was held strongly with the unsolved formula of love.
“This season as we enter into the 20s of this century, I want to express the unsolved love stories of these two sets of artists and muses. Separated by the vast distance between two different continents, yet identical in their expression of love and inspiration.”
“To me, the beginning of 2021 is like turning a new chapter: a chapter that brings new hope, vitality, and a sense of optimism. The promise of a vaccine to the Covid 19 pandemic combined with a new political regime welcomes America to relive the roaring 20s. I intended to design this collection with limited resources and mindful upcycling and recycling of materials on hand. As a result, I believe I was able to deliver one of my most cohesive collections, a collection that I enjoyed designing the most. It is like designing my very first collection in 2009, with limited resources but with the most excitement.“