“I’m a homebody,” said the designer who shuns the hard-partying side of the fashion world. “Every time my evening plans fall through, I’m like, ‘Woo-hoo, going home, watching TV, ordering in food.’”
Twice a year, Mohapatra returns to India, where he is participating in a government-backed effort to revive the manufacture of traditional handloom textiles in Orissa.
“I do miss India,” he confided. “I miss the people. I miss the food ... It’s very inspiring, going to villages and seeing a whole other world of artistry that has been alive for generations. It just really makes you humble.”
Going forward, Mohapatra says the label that bears his name “definitely has to be bigger.” Key to that vision is building a retail presence within three years in New York and beyond.
“There are so many pockets in the world that we are trying to get into, one by one,” he said.
“We are pretty well recognized in the Middle East and now we’re starting to be in Asia with the best partner you can ask for. It’s baby steps.”
Meanwhile, Mohapatra’s forged a sharper idea of the woman he designs for — well-educated, well-travelled, firmly on trend, but also a bit more demanding in the wake of the global economic downturn.
“She is no longer just dropping money and walking away with something she fell in love with,” he said.
“She takes five minutes to look at the piece and see how it’s made and asking questions she probably wasn’t asking before 2007. “I’m an artist, but I don’t make art that just hangs on a wall,” the designer added.
“I develop a product that I hope somebody is going to be moved by in such a way that they are going to put it on their back and feel good about it — so the product has to be really right and evolve, season after season.”