Bibhu Mohapatra Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

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Where a collection starts isn’t always where it ends, as was the case today at Bibhu Mohapatra. The designer cited Insurgent Muse, a book by Terry Wolverton about The Women’s Building, founded in Los Angeles in 1973 as a safe space for lesbian and feminist culture, as his inspiration. The pro-women message was reinforced when Mohapatra took his bow in a T-shirt that read Her Body = Her Choice (a reference to the anti-abortion ruling in Texas).

Spring’s line-up was the most pared back he’s ever done. The embellishments were moderate, and the main focus was on body-revealing sheaths and columns rather than more voluminous and cumbersome princess frocks. Ujjwala Raut showed how they should be worn with the confidence of a powerful woman. Most of the rest of the cast seemed very young and didn’t have Raut’s presence.  

The airiness of the space (Spring Studios) complemented the lightness of pieces like crystal embroidered tulle dresses. The palette, lots of ivory and green, was very optimistic. It was the season’s print that felt heavy. 

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The unexpected addition of fringe added movement and interest to lace dresses. A gown with a chiffon sleeve and floating train was a show-stopper; as were, in a very different way, the pieces in supima denim that paid homage to Claire McCardell. “What’s more American than Claire McCardell?!” Mohapatra exclaimed post-show when asked about his references. With “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” opening at the Met, this was good timing, but it was also time for a change, he said.  

Mohapatra recently opened his first store, and he is now interacting with the women who come in, not all of whom are looking for red carpet confections, though they may long for them. “It’s my nod to having more useful things, more day things,” he said. “We really wanted to make a very focused collection to present to the world that we are changing.” That message was welcome, and well received.

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