Bibhu Mohapatra tapped into the far East for his inspiration for fall, but it wasn’t his own eastern heritage. Specifically, it was the Empress Dowager Cixi, who was part of the Chinese dynasty from 1860 to 1908. “Her courage and her power and her hunger for being in control,” said Mohapatra. “I was in Beijing and I was at the Forbidden Palace. I got a tour of it from a scholar and I fell in love with her story.” One of the great social changes Cixi was known for was banning the ancient Chinese tradition of binding women’s feet to make them appear smaller.
On Mohapatra’s runway, a different kind of binding was used. Leather harnesses by Zana Bayne were worn over Mohapatra’s very feminine wares. Chinoise embroideries embellished the length of a dress all the way to the hem in a bright Chinese red. Dragon flies adornements by Colette Malouf for Bibhu Mohapatra adorned accessories, the hair, even the back of a luscious cherry blossom-hued fur coat. Of course, there were plenty of gowns for the gala going set that adore Moahapatra’s designs, but the inspiration played to a different market. Mohapatra said he had been in Beijing to do a show there and China happens to be a burgeoning market for him. Some of the best pieces had ultra-high slits that showed of plenty of leg and revealed some particularly covetable hosiery thanks to a Mohapatra’s collaboration with Hanes. Mohapatra said he didn’t know if they would be made for sale yet, but there would probably be many women that would love to get their legs in them. As Bibhu put it, “It finished every single look in a very cool, edgy, modern way.”