Red-carpet Maestro Bibhu Mohapatra
"She is really smart, educated, with a passion for fine clothes." That's the way 37-year-old fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra describes his typical customer. Credit his luxurious red-carpet ball gowns for heightening the fashion world's recognition of Bibhu's exquisitely refined sensibility. His dresses and gowns have an immensely loyal clientele because they strike a delicate balance between classic and modern. Yet what makes them unique is their timelessness. Bibhu's clothes are destined to have a life beyond any one season. "My typical client is not a fashionista," he says. "She's not a slave to fashion and appreciates that my clothes are designed to always be in style."
What sets Bibhu apart from other star designers is his loyalty to haute couture standards. Like a director giving notes to an actor on a performance, he's a hands-on guy who tweaks every dress until it satisfies his critical eye. The clothes are a blend of color, texture, delicate laces, beading and fanciful embroidery. Equally important is that they appeal to all ages and flatter the thin and not-too- thin woman.
The alabaster and sand-color ball gown here is made from 48 triangle panels, gathered, contoured, and pinched at the waist with Italian lace trim. "It is very romantic, very old world, yet modern and looks great on every body type," he says.
Even as a child growing up in India, Bibhu was interested in clothing. He started cutting up old saris to create dresses for his sister at the age of 12 after his mother taught him to use a sewing machine. He was always good with his hands, but also with numbers and eventually ended up with a masters degree from Utah State University. After several internships in New York's garment center, Bibhu became the design director at J. Mendel, a Paris-based family fur house with a boutique on New York's Madison Avenue. At Mendel, he experimented with mixing fur and fabric creating "really cool, young, fur" dresses and jackets that transformed the business.
In 2009, he set out on his own with a full collection of day and evening clothes. Today, he presents two lines a year which are sold worldwide. Unlike some fashion designers Bibhu is so far staying loyal to New York's garment center. All work is done in New York City under his close eye making the clothes more costly and special than if they were made overseas. His day clothes start at about $450 while ball gowns begin at $2,800. Furs top out at $35,000. Bibhu credits his team for his success. He says that one of his seamstresses has "fingers of gold." Another was a former pattern maker for Yves St. Laurent capable of solving any design problem. "I am nothing without them," he says. "They help me bring each season to life." Details at www.bibhu.com.