Special: US-based couturier Bibhu Mohapatra's SS'21 edit focusses on mindful consumption
US-based couturier Bibhu Mohapatra believes that the pandemic has forced us to ponder and re-evaluate age-old fashion practices
As the 20th century rolled in, India witnessed several changes in its art world with the Bengal school of art producing many artists of repute. Among them, a few maverick talents chose to go on a quest for a change and originality and distanced themselves from the Bengal School. Amrita Sher-Gil is one such change-maker, who revolutionised and challenged the Indian art scene in a way that was perhaps too futuristic for her contemporaries to appreciate.
With her bold and daring approach towards her life and her artistic milieu, she charted the path for the future generations of artists who pledged to continue her legacy of change and challenged the established and accepted artistic norms.
Renowned couturier Bibhu Mohapatra’s Spring ’21 collection is inspired by the works and life of Amrita Sher-Gil, and is an ode to her essentially Indian spirit. To announce his collection, the US-based designer, who is worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, made a fashion film starring Surina Jindal as SherGil and Ariana De Bose of Hamilton-fame as her muse.
“A few months back I met Ariana through a friend, and we discussed the collection and the campaign film and she loved it. I was looking for a diverse and inclusive cast for my film,” says Bibhu. Shot by Shruti Ganguly and JD Urban, this film showcases Surina and Ariana in some of Bibhu’s summer creations, featuring his iconic meld of Indian ethnic wear with classic American cuts. The freshness of the look has been further reinforced by the bright colour-block eye make-up by Yumi Yaizuka.
So why did you choose to collaborate and make a fashion film?
I wanted to see change and make change an inspiring process. I wanted to collaborate with artists of different genres to articulate my craft. So often, it is the work of artists confronting the darkness and obstacles in our world that can ultimately (and occasionally abstractly) help us make sense of our place within it.
And maybe, more importantly, how we can see with new eyes and a new perspective. This moment in history — if we are listening and looking deeply with our whole selves — has the power to permanently shift our perceptions and relationships with race, privilege, equity, empathy, and hope. Through art, and, in this case, through dance and movement, we can observe how physically — and compassionately — confronting barriers and blocks can profoundly push us to reassess, improvise, and find a way forward... in our work, our art, and in ourselves.
To change, we must move, be it awkward, unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and (hopefully) enlightening. Because standing still is no longer an option.
In which direction do you see the global fashion industry moving in the post-pandemic world?
I believe that this pandemic has forced us all to ponder and re-evaluate all our practices. From our day-to-day lifestyle to our consumption patterns, all are up for an assessment and scrutiny. We are all forced to question the norm, the way things were.
As it is the global fashion industry was decaying, with mindless consumption and short lifecycle of clothes, with practices that were far from sustainable. This pandemic will lead to an absolute overhaul of the entire mechanism, with attention to our environment and preservation of craft.
What is the new-age (post-pandemic) norm for the fashion-conscious?
Less production, mindful consumption, less fast fashion. Quality over quantity and clothes with life way longer than a season.
What will be your mood board in the upcoming summer season in terms of detailing and motifs?
It will be about the relationship between the artist and the artisan/muse. It will be colours of optimism. Beautiful organic shapes paired with sharp tailoring.
What colours, silhouettes and fabrics have you used?
Chartreuse, lime, blush, stone, sand, ivory, black, pale pink and sky blue are some of the colours you will see making splashes in my latest collection. We are presenting some of our best and classic shapes over the last 10 years. The fabrics are crepes, silk faille, sheer tulle, lace, Guipure lace.
How much is your fashion house changing in this pandemic-scarred global economy?
Like everyone in this world, we too are affected by the pandemic, but we in the US are also going through massive social unrest with issues of racial tension, equality rights and freedom. We plan to include mindful practices that bring our community together, pay attention to all the artisans and their crafts.
Instead of creating volumes of collection, we plan to create a few collections that tell our stories and about all the people who contributed towards creating the same. We are ready to pivot and take this brand on a path to the future.
Three non-negotiables in one’s wardrobe.
Comfortable loungewear, a perfectly tailored jacket and a fine Odisha ikat sari.
What are the other capsule collections you are working on?
Now we are working on Fall 2021 collection, as well as some exciting collaborations.