“I’m still holding onto that hope and optimism, not just in my life but collectively as a human race,” Bibhu Mohapatra expressed during a walk-through of his resort collection within the walls of his first New York City storefront. The space itself, located at 39 North Moore Street in TriBeCa, was the former art studio of Mohapatra’s husband, Bobby Beard.
“Twenty-five years ago, this used to be his painting studio. I remember coming here, I had just met him and he had a cocktail party with massive canvases on the walls from the beginning to the end, with a band playing and 200 people attending. One of his friends developed this space — we saw him last summer and he said, ‘Take this space, do something with it.’”
Back in February, the conversation came to fruition again, and by summer, Mohapatra had relocated his atelier. The designer will not only use the space as a storefront for shopping and client appointments but as a potential incubator for young designers. “This sort of fell into my lap as a gift, so I want to share it,” he mused. The potential to use the space to showcase upcoming collections is also on the table.
The biggest message of resort echoed the importance of uplifting and spotlighting artisans following the immense hardships of the pandemic, while emulating the optimism seen throughout the blooming Manhattan streets in the spring. The tight, 18-look collection incorporates hand-embroidered 3D fabric flowers by M&S Schmalberg, and Supima cotton fabrications with upcycled, archival fabrications and embroideries, such as Mogul-inspired beadwork.
The look: A result of the hope and optimism for the future in feeling, as well as a prelude to spring through artisanal details.
Quote of note: “I think the bigger conversation is that I’m excited about what spring is going to do — maybe we’ll take the collection to Paris, which we always did — but I want to work with people within our community, whether it’s the flower maker that’s been in business for 100 years, a factory or artisan in India or a small village. All those things I want to get back to in a meaningful way, so I can tell their story. If a client comes in and he or she wants to buy something, they should know the roots of what they’re buying. Otherwise, we just don’t give credit where credit is due.”
Key pieces: Daywear proved strongest, like a handkerchief-hem safari dress with floral appliqués or pleated pale pink shirtdress; a sculpted cocktail gown with embroidered beadwork; Lurex-striped and pleated frocks from day to night.
Takeaway: Through the immense hardships of the last year, Mohapatra’s optimism continues to shine through his rtw offering.