India's Bibhu brings Tibet to New York runway
A model presents an outfit by Bibhu Mohapatra during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014 shows on February 12, 2014 in New York - by Don Emmert
The 41-year-old award-winning designer, who has dressed First Lady Michelle Obama, sent 41 breathtaking looks down the runway, confections of plum, black, ivory, bronze, red and neutrals.
For outerwear, he showcased luxurious mink coats and mink vests. There was a beautiful alligator coat with sable trim and cropped bomber jackets with raccoon collars.
A hazy mountain scene appeared again and again: printed across a pencil skirt, a shift dress, an off-the-shoulder satin gown and an organza strapless ball gown.
Mohapatra told AFP backstage his inspiration was Tibet, Earth's highest region. Tibet is governed by China and shares a border with India, which hosts a government in exile.
"It's a land that is so close to my homeland, and it's the spirituality, bonding that kind of got me in there," he said, sweat dripping off his face as he was mobbed by fans and friends.
"The beautiful, vast landscapes and the beautiful people and their beliefs, and their day-to-day lives is what captured me."
"Everything has a meaning, so it was beautiful, it was a sort of introspective journey into myself," he told AFP.
He made ample use of prints and beaded insets with the traditional Tibetan pangden pattern of offset stripes. There were beaded cocktail dresses, pleated chiffon skirts and a stunning metallic gown in gold that shimmered like a disco ball.
Chiffon, cashmere and beaded organza, embroidery and jacquard panels, crepe gowns all played starring roles, and Mohapatra appeared to cat calls at the end of the show.
He told AFP he designed for the woman who is "really global with beautifully crafted clothes" and an eye to longevity, who keeps pieces season after season.
"I have a very good market in Russia, in the Middle East, in China, in India and the US, of course. So she's all over."
Mohapatra grew up in the Indian state of Orissa. At New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, he won its Critic's Award for Best Evening Wear Designer in his senior year.
He spent eight years as design director at furrier J. Mendel before resigning in 2008 and striking out on his own.