What: Bibhu Mohapatra fall runway show.
Where: Skylight at Moynihan Station during New York Fashion Week.
The inspiration: Mohapatra often delves into history for inspiration and looks to strong women (previous collections have been inspired by heiress Nancy Cunard and New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelen), so he located a fascinating subject for his fall collection: the Empress Dowager Cixi, who is considered the most important woman in Chinese history.
The Empress Dowager effectively controlled the government during the late Qing dynasty, from 1861 until her death in 1908. Mohapatra discovered her story while touring the Forbidden Palace in Beijing and fell in love with her story. The collection "celebrates the prowess and poise of the mysterious female mind, which solicits the seductive power of chaos and control," he said in his program notes.
The look: Soft but powerful, the collection is marked with Chinoise embroidery embellishment, dragon fly adornments and even leather harnesses over delicate lace dresses. There are a number of statement-making evening gowns, a Mohapatra speciality, including an ebony and ivory strapless gown with a gold train and a flared multi-colored robe skirt that flares to the ground. The collection will be available at Elizabeth Anthony.
Top accessory: For the second season, Mohapatra collaborated with Hanes to outfit models in distinctive hosiery. With this collection, he introduced edgy black "skin graft'" hosiery in shades of two-tone black to give the old-world collection a modern touch.