Manish Malhotra: No one like him

From the reel world to the real one, fashion designer Manish Malhotra is a force to reckon with. In conversation with A Varsha Rao, he shares his fashion secrets

Manish Malhotra

He’s the man for all seasons. His designs rule the real and reel world with aplomb. His flair for fashion sets tongues wagging. Manish Malhotra is a force to reckon with in the world of glitz and glamour. He’s close to completing three decades in the fashion industry, but he feels it all started yesterday. Now, he has also stepped into the world of home decor, jewellery and make-up. In an exclusive interview, he discusses all things fashion:

You are close to completing three decades in the world of fashion designing. How do you look back on your journey? 

It really feels like yesterday. It has been a beautiful journey. I’ve completed 29 years in the  world of costume designing, while the label is 14 years old. Much before I knew it all for sure, I had always imagined celebrities in outfits that speak of the story and augment the theme of the movie strongly, and I wanted to do exactly that. I remember asking one of the directors about the script of the movie to work on my costumes, which was very rare at that time. Costume designers used to design on the basis of the character sketch given to them. I’ve always wanted to create something that was new and never done. Finally, with Rangeela, my hard work was recognised.

In the world of Manish Malhotra
In the world of Manish Malhotra 

How do you look at the Indian fashion scene today?

The fashion scene in India has become much evolved now. While Bollywood has become closer than ever, the proximity to international fashion influences has also increased. Live broadcast of runways, increased engagement of Bollywood actors, influencers in the fashion and lifestyle space... all that has become possible with social media. This has completely changed the consumption pattern of fashion in the country. Earlier, the affluent crowd who had access to glossy fashion magazines used to bring cut-outs for their bespoke order. However, today, brides have formed their own styles with the numerous options available on the digital medium. They aren’t blinded by trends but want to own a piece that accentuates their personality. They are very clear in their minds about their expression through garments.

How would you describe your fashion to someone who doesn’t know anything about you?

‘Manish Malhotra World’ is an expression of your true personality with a little dynamism to it. Glamorous, unapologetic and individualistic is core to our label that will now seamlessly travel through Manish Malhotra lifestyle, including our make-up line and our recent venture in home and jewellery. If you believe in traditions but want to give it your own spin, then our label welcomes you to experience the star within you. We are dedicated to bringing out a ‘star-wattage’ look in you.

How does sustainability work in the world of fashion? Do you have any such plans?

Sustainability has always been very important to me, and especially to the world of fashion. However, currently in conversations is environmental sustainability, which is not a choice but the need of the hour. There is also social sustainability that is core to our industry. Fashion is an industry which is labour-heavy and requires resources on a grassroots level such as karigars, weavers, tailors, masters, dyers, manual labourers, etc. Hence, taking care of them is equally important. With regards to environmental sustainability, we are very strong with our pre-consumer waste and effectively utilise that through our patchwork.

What kind of trends do you foresee for the near future?

It’s the age of inclusivity. One’s personality takes precedence over trends today. Today, women and men don’t just follow a trend, but reflect their own personality in their style. Also, at any given point of time, trends are being revisited from the past and newer ones keep getting invented with every new generation. For example, a bride can choose something really minimal and sober for an occasion and a very eccentric and maximalist for another. 

What are the top five fashion essentials of every woman’s wardrobe?

A flowy sheer chiffon sari, a handcrafted kalidar, a universal cut bling blouse, a cocktail dress, an heirloom piece (sari, shawl, stole, etc), and a classic heritage piece (sari, suit, kurta, etc).

What are the most common mistakes women make with fashion?

• Wearing clothes that don’t suit their body.

• Being overdressed.

• Wearing loud make-up.

• Unkempt hair.

• Chipped nails.

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