Mohapatra show at full capacity during New York Fashion Week

New York designer Bibhu Mohapatra is riding high since Michelle Obama
arrived on a landmark visit to India wearing his dress — his Fashion Week
show was mobbed Wednesday.

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Dozens of people given standing-room tickets were turned away from a
packed house
at Lincoln Center, forced to watch the fall/winter 2015 collection on
TV screens
in the lobby as there was no more room. The collection was full of rich fur
coats, both long and cropped, in white, brown, red and blue, mixed with
elegant monochrome tailoring and structured evening gowns in red and
electric blue.

Speaking to AFP before the show, a happy and relaxed Mohapatra was loving the
attention, 19 years since moving to the United States, first to study economics
and then fashion. “To be represented in my homeland by probably one of the
most important persons and not only because of her fashion style or her
following, but who she is and what she stands for, was a big deal for me,”
he said.

It is not the first time Obama has worn one of his outfits, but selecting the
blue flowered dress and matching coat to step off Air Force One with President
Barack Obama on January 25 was a career high. “I feel very fortunate that
I’m in a very small way part of that history,” he said of the visit, which
signalled a growing closeness between Washington and New Delhi. “One
billion people were watching on a live telecast and (the Obamas) being received
by the prime minister of one of the largest democracies. Not bad!” he said.

The Obamas arrived in India on Saturday evening US time, and Mohapatra
went straight
to his studio and left the pictures on his team’s desks. “I know that means
a lot to them. And who doesn’t want to get validated for their work? And I
felt validated. I got so many phone calls, my phone literally rang all
night — for a week,” he said.

More time in India

Mohapatra’s success is the American dream personified. He grew up in a
middle class family in Orissa, on the east coast of India, and moved to the
United States in 1996. After earning a Master’s degree in economics from
Utah State University, he enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology
in New York. Before launching his eponymous label at Fashion Week in 2009,
he was design director at French furrier J. Mendel for nine years.

Hollywood actresses Hilary Swank, Gwyneth Paltrow and Glenn Close have worn his
clothes, but he says he would love to spend more time in India. “I’m a bit
of a nomad, I love to travel,” he told AFP. “I would like to be
omnipresent, if I can be, because the world has become a really small
place.” Economic development has transformed the India he left in 1996 into
a “very different” country, he says.

“It’s exciting. Every time I go back, there’s so much. We launched in India in
2014 so now we’re going to be doing more and more things. A few things are in
the pipeline,” he said. But Mohapatra also loves the United States. He
lives in New York and spends his weekends upstate, where he keeps chickens
named after supermodels. He started with 17, then there were 21, but there
were a “few attacks” and “some models perished,” he admits.

“I go every weekend upstate and relax,” he said. “I don’t cook them, but I like
to cook, I like to cook Indian food and invite my friends.” But why the
unusual chicken names? “Because they’re beautiful! They’re like so elegant
and they give eggs,” he laughed. “You can’t get those from supermodels!”
(Jennie Matthew, AFP)

Photos: Vogue

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