At a surface level, Bibhu Mohapatra & Janavi India by Jyotika Jhalani are diametrically opposite in their essence. But they are ready to pump life into New York Fashion Week with their creative synergies, because at the core, they are uncannily alike. Bibhu, a renowned couturier for decades and Janavi, a brand propelling the rustic charm of cashmere on a global stage – the capsule is bound to successfully cement Indian sensibilities on a global platform. With incorporation of Ikat, occasional sightings of velvet, fringes and animal iconography, the collection also finds inspiration in art deco as an aesthetic.
An ode to Bibhu Mohapatra’s favorite muse Nancy Cunard, the Fall 2023 collection is luxury intertwined with the artist’s vulnerability, served on a sartorial platter. We caught up with both visionaries to discuss their inspirations and the coming together of two powerhouses.
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ELLE: How did this collaboration come about?
Jyotika Jhalani (JJ): We came together as our energies were extremely similar. We never thought of a collection, we never thought of a partnership, we decided that we must do something together. And when Bibhu Mohapatra came to see me last year at the atelier, the magic began there. He loved the energy there, he loved the entire process of Janavi, the process, the people, he loved the way I interacted with my workers. There was music, dance, and magic moments happening at every department and he knew from that moment that there was an attraction within our souls. And I just felt there was a soul connect and it was in that moment he said, “Let’s do fashion week together,” and it happened so easily that we hadn’t even thought about what our collection would be like and how it would merge together and somehow our collection just juxtaposed into his. So it was just a moment of magic.
Bibhu Mohapatra (BM): It all started when I went for a meeting with Jyotika at Janavi headquarters in Delhi, last November. I was simply enthralled by the creativity and the energy of Jyotika and her amazing team. We discussed many plans and ideas of possibilities, one more exciting than the other.
ELLE: What is the commonality between the 2 brands that led to this collaboration?
JJ: Even though the two brands are diametrically opposite in their essence, their style and their field because Bibhu Mohapatra is a couture fashion brand and we are a cashmere brand, the commonality is we both strive for perfection, we both strive for excellence in what we do and we both strive for attention to detail. There is a great bond between the two because we are very clear in the way we think, the way we create, and we absolutely have our roots in India.
BM: If I were to pick one commonality of the two brands, it would have to be the integrity of the quality of the products. I believe both brands stand for the value of creating an unforgettable experience through design, innovation, and quality.
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ELLE: What can we expect from the upcoming NYFW collection?
JJ: The collection is really a combination of beautiful woven ikat, there are embroideries which range from a collection which has our galaxy, lots of intricately embroidered pieces. Like our dragon piece which is like our showstopper – we have lots of fringes, pieces that have lace detailing, there is velvet, there is strong animal collection detailing. Bibhu Mohapatra’s collection is an ode to his favourite muse Nancy Cunard.
The reason why our collection somehow fits in is that it enhances a lot of silhouettes that are actually quite flowing and have that art decor kind of styling.
BM: This fall 2023 collection includes groups of very focused products in each category, that are intertwined with a very strong, but restrained colour palette, layered with some of the most exquisite textiles, sharp, tailoring and elegant draping. The collection reflects the creativity and vulnerability of my muse as an artist with a heart of gold.
ELLE: Bibhu has been showcasing at NYFW for years, but this is the first time for Janavi. How does that feel and what does it mean for the brand?
JJ: For Janavi this is actually the second time we will have showcased at New York Fashion Week. The first was with Ashish Soni where we were accessory partners, but I would say that was a long time ago and this is something which I would say for me is really our first big one! This is the start of something very exciting because our collections are in specialty stores in the US like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and more, I would like to take this collection forward to all across the US and actually be able to show this internationally too.
ELLE: In terms of the collection, what was the starting point of inspiration for this season? Talk us through the process.
JJ: Inspiration for Janavi AW 2023 is basically Janavi, through the ages, this is our 25th year and we have actually taken inspiration from all that we created in the last 25 years. So it’s not about creating a new collection, as much as it’s about actually enhancing our techniques, our craft, motifs and to see how we can do it better. It’s about how we see the Janavi woman carry herself with more confidence. For me the Janavi woman is a confident woman who walks out the door with style and panache; not having fashion dictate where she has to go and what she has to wear. Our pieces are timeless so through the collection that will be showcased and shown quite strongly, and where better than New York City?
BM: For me, I went back to my all-time favourite muse, Nancy Cunard, the eccentric and brilliant artist, activist and poet. A few years ago, when I was crossing the Atlantic from New York to Southampton, United Kingdom, I came across a biography of Nancy Cunard, as I was travelling on the QE2, a Cunard ship. Since then I have done much research on the life and works of Nancy Cunard, especially her daring literary work, and her voice against racial inequality. She was also remarkably well-known for her cutting-edge and curious sense of style.
ELLE: How did you integrate Janavi India scarves into your designs and made them a part of the ensemble?
BM: The Janavi scarves are like beautiful verses of a poem. They are beautiful individually and they are magnificent combined together with my clothing. They are modern yet elegant and they go perfectly with my clothes, day or evening.
ELLE: Would this collaboration be the start of an initiative where more designers can collaborate together and showcase Indian crafts on a larger scale?
JJ: I want to feel that anything that one does should definitely inspire others. I think Indian design is definitely getting more eyeballs on the international scene. We’ve been around for the last 15 years, you know we’ve been selling to Bergdorf, Saks, Neiman Marcus and other speciality stores all around the world. Sabyasachi has made a fantastic mark at Bergdorf as well. I think Gaurav Gupta and Rahul Mishra showing at Fashion Week in Paris has made all of us proud. I think all of these designers each one of them have their own USP and each one of them have their very strong aesthetic. I think definitely showcasing with other designers internationally is a great way to go. For me I just found that perfect balance of finding somebody like-minded, because there was a soul connection and a synergy which made me feel that I was working with somebody; who I already knew and it was just right.
BM: Yes, that is one of the most exciting parts of this collaboration for both Janavi, as well as for us. Together we bring the true meaning of luxury to the world, and that is the incredible craft from India.