Bibhu Mohapatra spring collection stems from a recent read, “Insurgent Muse” by Terry Wolverton, which led him on an explorative journey to discover the founders of Los Angeles’ Women’s Building founded by artist Judy Chicago, the altar of the feminist art movement.
Formed in 1973 as an act of protest, the Women’s Building offered a safe haven for feminist, lesbian and bisexual women artists who yearned to create their own space outside the realm of traditional male-dominated art and cultural circles and institutions.
“It took me to this place where I wanted to talk about women and their rights because I am shaped by women in my life, I am always there for them and I would like them to know that they can count on me as a creative, my language should say something for their benefit because without them I don’t exist,” said the designer backstage.
The discovery led Mohapatra toward one of the artists who helped found the Women’s Building and paved the way for contemporary artists: Ebony G Patterson, known for her large and colorful tapestries created out of various materials such as glitter, sequins, fabric and other embellishments. Using her collage technique that draws from nature prints and bold colors as inspiration, elements of this collection are an homage to the Jamaican-born visual artist.
The look: Combing through his archive from the past 12 years and reimagining past silhouettes into new garments, resulting in a soft offering with minimal embroidery, voluminous fantasy-driven gowns and body revealing pieces that command and enforce a look of strength.
Quote of note: “The pandemic and the many ways it’s impacted our communities and priorities has made us meditate more deeply on strength, courage, vulnerability, as well as hope and rebirth. And the life and work of these female artists has really personified these attitudes for me and this collection.”
Key pieces: Flowy pleated floor-length dresses; corseted dresses with lace slips; a pure white lace gown with tulle underskirt, and a pale rose mosaic embroidered strapless dress.
The takeaway: Mohapatra’s commitment to community and standing up for women’s rights was cemented in his finale walk, an impactful and political final bow where he donned a white T-shirt with the printed slogan “Her Body = Her Choice.” The collection was his way of celebrating individuality and strength of women, while adding a dose of feel-good optimism while dressing up.