NEW YORK — Fashion is always looking for the next big thing — the new generation of American designers who emulate the sophisticated style of Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera but put their own stamp on designs with a 21st century panache.
It's an eclectic collection based on his fascination with Nancy Cunard, the beautiful heiress to the shipping fortune who spent much of her life fighting facism and racism.
The 42-year-old Indian-American designer, who worked for Halston and was the design director at J. Mendel for a decade before launching his own namesake collection in 2008, has won a following for his sleek and sophisticated collections. (Michelle Obama is among his clients; the first lady wore his citrus print design on The Tonight Show a couple of years ago.) Mohapatra, a featured designer at Elizabeth Anthony, will show his spring 2015 line at Fashion Houston on Nov. 20.
It's an eclectic offering based on his fascination with Nancy Cunard, the beautiful heiress to the shipping fortune who spent much of her life fighting facism and racism after becoming romantically involved with Henry Crowder, an African-American jazz musician who was working in Paris in the the 1920s. Mohapatra discovered a biography on Cunard while on a trip across the Atlantic on one of the namesake cruise line's ships.
He captures her independent spirit with a striking collection incorporating unusual fabrics, including a circular geometric print developed in Laos that is used in day suits, moto jackets and even a cape with black intarsia mink sleeves. A multi-weave print shows up on sleeveless sheaths, chic cigarette pants and matching top, and even the skirt of an evening gown.
Feathers, crystal embroidered poppies and oversized floral prints all jazz up the collection, along with patterns that have a deco tinge.
Gowns are Mohapatra's speciality, and while the colors in his latest collection are a bit subdued, they incorporate prints and embellishment to make a fashion statement. He's a name to remember.