On a recent trip to Ischia, Bibhu Mohapatra visited La Mortella gardens and found a color palette for his resort collection. It is part of an estate once occupied by British composer Sir William Walton and his green-thumbed Argentine wife Suzanne, who collaborated with landscape architect Richard Page to create its subtropical spectacle.
Creating retreats on rocky and high terrain has actually been an uphill battle, and over the past few seasons, it feels like Mohapatra has struggled to find his footing as well. The fall collection looked like a tug of war between designer Mohapatra and retailer Mohapatra. (The brand recently moved into new headquarters, which will house a studio and sales space.) Resort found he was going in multiple directions at once, and the result was a collection that couldn’t come together as a whole. How the pink cotton boho dress and the light-as-air mesh dress coexisted was unclear; they read as one-offs rather than part of a coherent narrative.
If you look at Mohapatra’s work, his penchant for geometry is obvious. Cut square to form a skirt, it drapes asymmetrically at the sides. A black and green two-tone dress with sharply cut inserts had refreshingly straightforward graphic appeal. A white cylindrical gown with horizontal darts and a fringed cape back was likewise focused on structure rather than embellishment. But overall it’s a heavy collection. Drip sleeves and floor-sweeping hems are more likely to drag the wearer down than set her free.