Bejewelled pathway to success – Bibhu Mohapatra
Say ‘Bibhu Mohapatra’ and more often than not you might end up recalling the man who designed a blue floral dress worn by Michelle Obama during her India visit last year. But Bibhu Mohapatra the designer has a lot more to his credit. The US First Lady is just one amongst that long list of global personalities who have donned Bibhu’s creations. On his first visit to Bengaluru, the New York based designer talks to RITZ about his first ever foray into jewellery designing and how he has come a long way, but has a longer way to go.
It all started decades ago in Rourkela, a small town in Odisha famous for its steel plants. A young boy of 12 was utterly fascinated when one day his mother opened a red potli that contained exquisite pieces of jewellery passed down through generations in the family. The boy watched starry eyed as one after another, pieces of antique jewels poured out from the potli, each belonging to someone in the family, each having a story to tell. When he touched the jewels, he felt an immense connect with the people who would have adorned them once upon a time. This first encounter with jewellery ignited in his mind a small thought which he cherished and nurtured over the years until one day…the Forevermark Artemis collection was born.
“One dream I always had was to come up with a fine jewellery collection someday. I would fantasize about designing a particular piece, or taking a diamond and doing something with it,” says BibhuMohapatra, the man who has dressed celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank, Jennifer Lopez, Elisabeth Moss, Priyanka Chopra, and more.
Reflecting the luminescence, radiance and brilliance of the constellation comprising the sun, moon and the stars, and the balance that it creates in our lives, Forevermark Artemis is a collection of sensual and romantic jewellery for the contemporary woman “who travels, has a social life, who could be affluent, upper-middle class or middle class,” says Bibhu.
With a handpicked diamond from Forevermark at the heart of every piece of jewel in Bibhu’s collection; Artemis, set in different shades of gold, presents a fine balance between tradition and modernity. Four key motifs have been interpreted and richly blended into unique jewels comprising bracelets, pendants, rings, earrings and brooches.
“I look for a focal point while starting off something. I wanted the core of the inspiration to be Indian. I looked into our Vedic rituals, the constellation of the universe and how people can be compatible with each other. The central thought behind Artemis was inner balance and outer strength, making it a very special collaboration for me.”
Artemis revolves around the inclusion factor, appealing to the larger audience, rather than limiting itself to a niche clientele. “I was interested in doing something that has longevity, which can be grown and scaled. Create a line of fine jewellery which is luxury by inclusion, not exclusion. The whole idea that luxury has to be exclusive for a few is something I wanted to go against. Artemis comprises a wide range, each at different price points, having a unique design interspersed with the finest diamonds in the world.” Being transitional, some pieces in the collection like the rings and earrings can be paired with different types of wear, and can accentuate day wear, evening wear, or even casual wear.
Bibhu’s journey into jewellery started two years ago when he met Sachin Jain, President, Forevermark India. “Forevermark as a brand stands for a certain core value system. The diamonds are the best and the process of diamond selection is incredible. Each diamond is responsibly sourced and is known for its quality and integrity. All these factors allowed me to get excited about a possible association.”
A prominent name at the New York Fashion Week, no matter what heights his work has taken him to, the suave designer is immensely humble about his origins. “It all started in Odisha. I grew up seeing all those marvellous crafts that my state is known for such as silver filigree and Ikkat. I grew up in an environment that was beautiful, colourful and inspirational. Odisha and India represent my heritage and will always be present in my design DNA. I’m building a global brand and my heritage gives me an edge,” proclaims the man who went to the Utah State University to study economics and then eventually moved to NYC to enrol in the Fashion Institute of Technology.
For Bibhu, Artemis is just the beginning. “The first step. As I learn, I want to take it to newer levels and build a really huge universe of beautiful jewels.”