Posts tagged "Bibhu Mohapatra"
URBAN GARDNER MAY 17, 2010
From Incubator to Runway, a City Initiative
By RALPH GARDNER JR.
I know little enough about fashion (or the Bloomberg administration’s business initiatives, for that matter) that when Bibhu Mohapatra invited me to visit him at the Fashion Incubator I half expected to find him basking in a climate-controlled box, dressed to the nines.
My fashion education, besides the significant amounts of money my daughters spend on clothes they never seem to wear, has been limited to following Donna Karan around back in the 1980s for a Cosmopolitan magazine profile. And the thing I remember most about that assignment wasn’t Ms. Karan, as talented and effervescent as she was, or the collection, but standing backstage during the afternoon’s second show (atop a table taking notes, no less) and watching the likes of Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson and Linda Evangelista strip down to their unembellished selves and into their next outfit. I’m not so crass to rate the ladies either in terms of personality or physical beauty, except to say that I became a lifelong fan of Christy Turlington.
What were we talking about? Ah, yes: The fashion incubator. In actuality, it’s a Bloomberg administration plan to help emerging talent—other incubators include those for new media and emerging technology—by giving them professional support and subsidized office space. Officially “The Fashion Business Incubator,” it’s a collaboration between the city and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and is located near the Garment District on 38th Street just west of Sixth Avenue. Diane von Furstenberg, the CFDA’s president, will preside at the incubatory’s official opening Wednesday morning. “The space allows me to take whatever I’m doing and treat it like a business,” said Prabal Gurung, a women’s-wear designer whose previous space was his East Village apartment. “The garment industry is so close by—buyers, retailers, press people.”
The 10,000-square-foot space has something of the feel of a mini-mall, with individual glass-fronted storefronts running along a central boulevard. Or a college dorm, with lots of exposed brick—if all the students were really focused and passionate about their studies. The 12 women’s- and men’s-wear, jewelry and accessories designers were chosen by a panel of fashion industry experts, retailers and editors. They will have the use of the space, where they moved in April and are renting for between $1,500 to $2,000 a month, for two years.
When I visited the Fashion Incubator late last week, Mr. Mohapatra was working on a wedding gown for a private client, while several doors down Mr. Gurung had just completed an interview with NBC’s Laurel Pinson. Ms. Pinson, whose titles include “Shopping Editor,” was shooting some tape she said would be airing on taxi TV.
You may not yet have heard of Mr. Gurung, but you’re probably familiar with his work. He designed the body-hugging, off-the-shoulder, red matte jersey gown that Michelle Obama wore to the White House Correspondents Dinner a couple of weeks back—and that instantly catapulted her into my pantheon of favorite models, almost knocking Ms. Turlington off her perch.
Mr. Gurung said that no one at the White House had given him a heads-up that Mrs. Obama was going to be wearing his dress; he was in a cab that Saturday night with a couple of friends in the vicinity of Spring and Lafayette when his phone started going crazy. “I got a text from someone who was there,” he recalled. “She said, ‘Is she wearing your dress?’ Then the texts started coming in one after the other. I called my co-workers and they went online and confirmed it.”
One might suspect that Mr. Gurung’s success would spark envy among his incubator brethren. They claim not.
“It’s nothing like ‘Project Runway,’” insisted Waris Ahluwalia, a jewelry designer whose studio is next door to Mr. Gurung’s. “People are in different stages of their careers.”
“Everyone is in their individual sovereign states,” added Mr. Ahluwalia, whose arresting features have also led to roles in two Wes Anderson films—”The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” and “The Darjeeling Limited.”
“You run into each other. But no one has come over to borrow the salt or sugar—or scissors or sketch pad.”
Bibhu Mohapatra did seem in his own world, his assistants sewing away, as he put the finishing touches on a couple of gowns before fittings the next morning. He said that a goddess gown—beige, hand-pleated silk chiffon—draped on a nearby dress dummy “has been going crazy between Bergdorf’s and the private clients.”
But what about the clothes horse in the White House? “I’ve had a few things at the White House,” he said of clients who have attended state dinners in his gowns. “But I haven’t hit the bull’s-eye—yet.”
Lights adjusted. Fall 2010 collection on the racks. Studio looking good. Ready for the debute open house of CFI by Cfda.
Always the perfectionist, Gilles applies finishing touches to the costumes…. http://tweetphoto.com/23072247
Inside The CFDA Incubator With Waris, Prabal, Bibhu, And More
May 19, 2010
The 12 designers who now call the CFDA Fashion Incubator their home-away-from-home opened their doors to the press this morning for a meet-and-greet. When we strolled through, Prabal Gurung was shooting a video with NY1 and Waris Ahluwalia was handing out “Waris ♥’s You” pins (pictured) to lucky visitors. “It’s a fashion frat, only with better cocktails,” Justin Giunta jokes in our video tour of the new space. The atmosphere is certainly collegial, but it’s definitely more about work than play at 209 W. 38th Street. We asked Bibhu Mohapatra, who by luck of the draw landed the largest studio, if he ever feels pressure to stay as late as his peers. “The pressure doesn’t come from the other designers, it comes from the show date in September,” he told us. “But there have been times I’ve thought about not turning off the lights, closing the door, and sneaking out.” Lucky for him, he’s closest to the elevators. For a more in-depth look at the Incubator, watch this clip.