In what might be his most “Mohapatra” collection yet, Bibhu Mohapatra uses this New York Fashion Week 2020 to inspire the question- “Who are we and what is it to be an American?” Mohapatra added postshow: “I think we are asking that question right now, what you bring to the table and how to turn that environment we are in now really positive and optimistic. We should dig our heels in and really say loudly who we are.”
Inspired by the text by Richard Avedon and James Baldwin, Nothing Personal, the designer took some time to ponder what it means to him to be caught up in American identity. The book published over 50 years ago is still very much relevant, perhaps even moreso as we traverse this current political climate. As art and fashion tend to follow political dialogue to at least some extent, it’s not surprising that Mohapatra is using this query to find the way to finally express himself as both an Indian expat and a celebrated American. In fact his signature architectural cuts and silhouettes expressed a new originality, and a cultural marriage of the two that feels almost like he has discovered his true identity as a designer.
A true optimist, Mohapatra was on point delivering a collection that reflected on jewel tones and sparkle as an “answer” to this question. To be American is to embrace diversity, and find the best in both personalities. Bright but luxurious colours were twisted and gathered into voluptuous shapes that shared the traits of both American glamour and Indian sophistication.