Bibhu Mohapatra AW15


It’s the first show of the day, and I’m backstage at New York Fashion Week New York. It’s been an exhausting week, but I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world. It brings together two of my favorite fashion people, designer Bibhu Mohapatra and William Panzarella founder of U.S. footwear brand Max Martin.

AW15 is the first season the pair have teamed up and for Panzarella, it’s been an eye-opening experience, one of the brands crowning achievements. I caught up with him pre-show to find out more about his runway experience. — A.G.

What is it about Bibhu’s aesthetic that you thought would make a great fit for Max Martin?

Bibhu’s design aesthetic emits a sense of royalty. His creations are stunningly beautiful and each collection he creates projects a sense of utter chic. The first time I saw Bibhu’s clothing walk down the runway, I knew instantly that I had to work with him. As our shoes are handcrafted in America, our quality, style and sense of romanticism goes hand-in-hand with the pure elegance that Bibhu creates in his line.
What is the process behind designing shoes for a runway show?  
The process of designing shoes for a major runway show is as challenging as it is inspiring. We typically have the prototypes for our next season’s collection built by the time we start the collaboration with a designer, and when ready for our initial meeting, we have pieces to show. We discuss the inspiration of their collection, and while we must work within the confines of our existing lasts and constructions, we choose certain styles that meld with his or her vision for their upcoming season. The process from beginning to end is approximately 90 days, give or take. We pick the styles, what last, what heel, what materials and colors, and build prototypes for designer approval. The prototypes may change two or three times, based on how their collection is evolving. Sometimes while designing a custom shoe, the designer can simultaneously alter their vision completely, and since we are not working in the same office, we may find out about the change at a later date, and it’s back to the drawing board. Like I said, it’s challenging but quite fun and very interesting! I really love it.

What are some of the challenges/obstacles?

Our biggest challenge in creating shoes for the catwalk is honestly time. It takes several months for our factory to finish a production run of our shoes as they are completely made by hand, and it seems that changes to a fashion designer’s runway collection is inevitable. I have been backstage at shows, where I watched sewers making final alterations to dresses, as a dresser is dressing the model to hit the runway. Unfortunately, that is just not an option for us. We have to figure out a way to think on our feet, no pun intended, and adjust to the needs of the designer we are working with. Even if we expertly forecast, and give a really educated guess on size runs for a runway show, the designer doesn’t cast their models until a week prior to their show. So, we can order size 8.5, 9s and 10s of everything, but the latest supermodel of choice, cast to open the show, happens to be a size 11. All we can do is the best that we can and pray that we got it right.