For Spring, Bibhu Mohapatra was inspired by his friend Wendy Whelan's transformation into a modern dancer. (The longtime principal dancer at New York City Ballet debuted Restless Creature, a four-part performance, at Jacob's Pillow in August.) "She found herself again," said the designer at his year-old Garment District studio days before the show. "I liked that idea of a new beginning."
While Mohapatra didn't start from scratch with his latest offering, it did feel new: more confident and concise than past efforts. A digitized print depicting oversize palash—a fire-red tree flower found in India that he has long wanted to incorporate into a collection—appeared again and again in different colors on a white background. In fuchsia, it was shaped into a shirtdress with charming asymmetric pleating. A gold palash blouse was worn with a pencil skirt in the same print, but in a subtly contrasting sage green. There were coral, hot orange, pale pink, and black versions, too, each done in a classic shape: the shift, the skater, the tulip.
There was also embellishment. Mohapatra mostly went with 3-D adornment, including a nude crepe blouse studded with red-orange and dark lavender daisies, and a rose-colored mousseline gown with baby tulips scattered over the blouse. To counter these sweet looks, he incorporated a shards-of-glass pattern into a black organza frock with inverted pleats and a hand-pleated mousseline gown in sage. Mohapatra worked hard to make it all flow, and the result was a collection as sellable as it was thoughtful. Here's to (somewhat) new beginnings.