Remember Miranda Priestly and the epic Cerulean sweater monologue from The Devil Wears Prada? Or recently, Pierre Cadault in Emily in Paris? There is something similar between both these famous fictional characters – fashion. Each have illustrated in their sharp and sardonic demeanour how fashion transcends borders to add spunk and personality. In India, fashion guru Manish Malhotra has carried the baton to illustrate how fashion transcends from cinema to couture, from red carpets to wedding trousseaus, from musicals to Diwali parties.
As India's most celebrated couturier, Manish is known for his unique ability to seamlessly blend traditional Indian elements with contemporary designs. His journey has the panache that most designers wish to embrace nationally and globally.
His signature design elements include the intricate Kashmiri embroidery, the Mijwan Chikankari, Phulkari, and embellishments handcrafted by skilled artisans. Inspired by their worksmanship and thread work, Manish has curated collections and couture campaigns to promote local craftsmen. In one of his earlier campaigns named ‘Regal Threads’, he celebrated the Banarasi and Gujarati threadwork in stupendous stripes and tartans. Whereas his campaign, ‘Ruhaaniyat’ cast a spotlight on the forgotten Awadhi-Punjabi repertoire. And one must definitely experience his ‘Khaab’ collection to love the classic feather-themed blouses, emerald and pearl laced polkis.
He was the first ever designer in the industry to introduce sequins in a way that never has been done before. So much so that sequins has become the designer’s most prominent signature. His sequin sarees are some of the most wanted and is a must-have ensemble for every wardrobe.
And he is perhaps, one of the only contemporary designers who remains fearless in mixing his colour palette. A decade ago, not many could have imagined traditional ethnic wear in muted or unconventional pastels. Today, blush pink lehengas, salmon-coloured sarees, and ivory kurtas have become the norm. And his designs are not limited to six yards of chiffon, silk, and zardozi. Bold metallics, burgundy, and hues of red find their home in velvets, linens, muslin, and satin.
But what sets him apart from his contemporaries is, his vision of fashion beyond the red carpet. Dedicated to make a positive contribution to the world, he has undertaken various philanthropic initiatives throughout his career. One of his most notable initiatives is his support of the Mijwan Welfare Society to empower women and girls in rural India. At Mijwan, in collaboration with Shabana Azmi and Namrata Goel, Manish Malhotra has over 800 women who are taught the craft of Chikankari and then employed for the brand to create unique pieces that are further couture’d up by the maestro himself. The last Mijwan Couture show in 2022 saw Deepika Padukone and Ranvir Singh as showstoppers in glorious looks.
For Malhotra, fashion is not just about creating beautiful designs, but a form of expression that can catalyse social change. He has explained how fashion can promote Indian culture and heritage, while also empowering communities and promoting social justice.
"I want to create clothes that celebrate our culture and traditions, but that also reflect the changing times and the needs of the people."Manish Malhotra
The year has started with a bang for the designer. From creating all the looks for Kiara Advani and Siddharth Malhotra’s wedding including the airport looks to going straight into the Grand Finale of Lakme Fashion Week with his Diffuse 2.0 collection and his latest work for the launch of Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) showcased as much of the Indian craft and heritage. He is the only designer to design over 1300 outfits for the first-ever musical at the launch of NMACC. He further exhibited 5 couture installations at the ‘India in Fashion’ Exhibition which includes 3 iconic outfits from his cinematic journey.
But re-invention, he believes, is the name of the game. With Diffuse, his bridge-line for Gen Z, he aims to connect with the fun, wild, and spunky digital nomads; a new diaspora of business.
Manish Malhotra is a force to be reckoned with where he is constantly pushing boundaries and setting new standards with his innovative designs and unwavering passion for his craft. All eyes are now set on what he takes up next. Word is that Manish is going to launch his flagship boutique in Dubai very soon and introduce the world to the gems of Manish Malhotra High Jewellery. Two words: Can’t Wait!
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