Designer Bibhu Mohapatra Talks Fashion & Philanthropy in the Penthouse


Credit: Drew Altizer Photography
Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

What better way to raise money for charity than to combine a world-class designer with a top-notch San Francisco philanthropist, perched at the top of Nob Hill surrounded by incredible views in the luxurious surroundings in one of the city’s most prestigious neighborhoods?

This highly anticipated  event tMarilyn Cabecook place at the historic Fairmont Hotel where socialite and humanitarian Marilyn Cabak and international fashion magazine Luxetigers, founded by Victor Vargas, hosted “Fashion & Philanthropy in the Penthouse”.  The event showcased the unique pieces of New York designer Bibhu Mohapatra, who blessed San Francisco with his presence. Cabak has been tremendously active for over five years as a fulltime volunteer raising funds and cognizance for countless San Francisco charities.

Marilyn’s focus is greatly placed on helping the homeless and individuals suffering from mental illness, which makes the Conard house very special and close to her heart. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the trunk show and 100% of the tickets sales to “Fashion & Philanthropy in the Penthouse” went to the Conard House, founded in 1960 as San Francisco’s first psychiatric halfway house, which bridged the gap by providing transitional housing alternatives for adults who no longer required institutional care and had no alternate place to turn.

Each year the Conard House serves 1,700 individuals at various stages of recovery and operates as a private nonprofit organization in various neighborhoods through San Francisco. As guests arrived, Cabak who was impeccably dressed in one of Bibhu Mohapatra’s monochromatic gowns took the time to greet the likes of Carolyn Chandler, Conard House Executive Director Richard Heasley, former San Francisco Mayor Mayor Willie Brown and Sonya Molodetskaya, Belinda Berry, Jacqueline Jacoby, Alan Morrell, Daru Kawalkowski, Tony Bravo, Barbara Brown, Joy Bianchi and many others.

Conard House 2Bibhu Mohapatra’s innovative yet classic designs were featured in a spectacular and intimate fashion show where the models glided their way through the lavish Penthouse rooms. This provided the guests with a perfect close up look at the timeless couture pieces, which were perfectly accented with Christian Dior handbags and make-up provided by Benefit Cosmetics. The chic fall 2013 line that was on display was infused with exquisitely draped and cut fabrics accentuating the use of the flattering lines on each piece.

It is no wonder that Mohapatra has dressed celebrities such as, The First Lady Michelle Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Glenn close who are all huge supporters of his work! “Fashion Show 3 has a really friendly team and is very supportive of my work and the importance to wear something from a young designer. I am grateful for the opportunity and I have a really great relationship with them” explains the mild mannered Mohapatra. Gwenyth Paltrow being a huge enthusiast of Bibhu’s work “pulls a lot of pieces, every season and Tweets about him and his clothes”. Additionally, Glenn Close stops by his studio and the two will take time to work together on ideas.

When asked what other celebrities he would love to work with, he humbly responded, “it’s a long list”. There is no doubt that the list and demand for his work will continue to grow – quite rapidly.

Similar to any great artist, Bibhu always starts his creation from an idea, whether it be “wallpaper in a dining room or a piece of inspiring art work, once I have an idea, a person, a place, a color, some architecture, everything goes on to the (inspiration) wall and the image board happens”. The next important step is choosing the right colors and fabric selections at which point Bibhu begins to drape and sketch building the layers, “After hundreds of sketches, they go on the wall and I start making creations. Editing is very important, which is why it takes a few months of work”. In the near future, fans can expect designs with, “a lot of colors, a lot more architecture, as well as a larger range of product, more day wear in an addition to evening wear… there’s the possibility in the future of accessories”.

Best advice for young designer hoping to make it: “to really believe in yourself and work really hard, the craft is something you have or acquire, but one thing stays the same, be nice to people and remain confident in your craft and know that you’re going to succeed.” “Fashion & Philanthropy in the Penthouse” is the first of many planned for Marilyn Cabak and Luxetigers. It is a great way to enjoy a cocktail, catch up with good friends, and spend an evening sharing the love for fashion all while fundraising for a wonderful and important cause. As Bibhu Mohapatra mentioned, “being nice is the key and that I cannot tell enough in this industry especially, it’s a very small world and if you’re nice to people it goes a long way”, and he is absolutely correct.

[Reported by Darren Anderson]

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