NEW YORK — For fall, Bibhu Mohapatra is into understated glamour. His new collection, unveiled at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, features clean, graphic looks in primary shades of black, white and silver, with bursts of marigold, ruby and indigo blue. Bias-cut gowns with flowing trains, ostrich feather skirts and luxe fur coats with a light, unbundled-up feeling dress up the collection without too many bells and whistles.
Mohapatra told style.com that after traveling to India in early December to mourn the death of his father, he stripped out the floral motifs from the collection and replaced them with brushstrokes and feathers for a more restrained look. "She's the same woman, but a little more restrained, serious," he said, referring to his customer and this collection.
"Women in Houston actually buy clothes to wear. If I had the choice I would like to have that in all of the cities."
There's still plenty of "wow" factor for his upscale clientele, particularly in the evening gowns and draped day dresses in graphic color-block patterns. When in Houston a few months ago for a personal appearance at Elizabeth Anthony, which showcases his collection, Mohapatra said that, while he is known for evening gowns, his expanded daywear and fur collections are increasingly popular.
"I think I get to know my customer every season because she’s evolving. She has become global. When I send my products to China, it’s the same woman. Physically she may be different but she’s exposed and she understands the aesthetics. So whether it’s China or the Middle East or India or New York or Houston, I’m getting to know my client better, so my product is evolving based on that."
From periodic trips to Houston (he is good friends with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Gary Tinterow and his partner Christopher Gardner and has also shown his collection twice at Fashion Houston), Mohapatra has been impressed by the way Bayou City women dress.
"But the reality is that they have a special affinity for arts and culture. Let’s take clothes out of the equation for a second. Look at the appetite for art alone. It all kinds of centers on that," he said. "Women in Houston actually buy clothes to wear. If I had the choice I would like to have that in all of the cities."
During his next trip to Houston, look for Mohapatra to dine on a local delicacy. When asked what was something people didn't know about him, he said, "I love fried chicken. I love it so much to the point that I could eat it every day."
CultureMap advised him to check out Frenchy’s on his next Houston trip because it's a favorite of Beyoncé.
"If it’s good for Beyoncé, it’s good for me," he said.