It's hard to picture a Manish Malhotra runway presentation minus the ornate appliqué embroidery, glistening velvets, a hurricane of sequins and floor-sweeping trains. Decidedly glam and unapologetically theatrical — the MM muse enjoys owning every room she walks into. Over the years, the designer has stayed true to his unironic vision of pretty while always managing to get attention on the daily algorithm scroll of Gen Z.
And now, he's all set to showcase Diffuse — a more edited, wearable, and everyday approach to glamour at the upcoming FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week. He speaks to Lounge about the new collection, and about exploring new areas like decor.
Diffuse brings the focus on MM ready to wear and separates. What can we expect at the show regarding wearability, aesthetic, and versatility?
As we head into the year, brimming with anticipation, we're looking at a season of gatherings. There is something for everyone, from vibrant, chic details to bold and busy prints. So, expect something ‘extra,’ as they say. There's also variety, unconventional styles and of course, there'll be a new definition to my favourite silhouette, the sari. We are amplifying the already glam to welcome the already existing audience into the fold. You'll witness all these contemporary silhouettes in sequins, tassels, beads, feathers, metallics, Swarovski favouring my signature maximalist glitz and glamour.
Read our coverage of the FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week
What are the post-pandemic premium pret essentials?
There's a lot of new focus on separates and detachable pieces. The clothes must be suitable for all types of occasions, seasons, and festivities, so one needs to pay heed to modular fashion that can cater to all of the above and still make you stand out.
That being said, people have switched to distinct dressing that matches their identity. The pandemic has reinforced the idea of dressing in terms of highlighting one's personal expression.
Premium pret in India is densely populated with identical offerings. How have you managed to stay distinctive in a competitive luxury pret space?
The influence has stretched far beyond the world of clothes. It's been 31 years since my inception into the industry, and I refuse to limit my brand's aesthetic to a singular classification; therefore, I feel the adaptability factor of my collections to changing times and the timelessness it holds has helped me manage to stay distinctive in a competitive luxury pret space.
There's a sense of history, research and cinematic whimsy in every MM campaign rooted in embroidery techniques and a maximalist vibe. Do you feel pressured to convey your message to the digital audience who's used to eye-catching reels and short vidoes?
Not really, I find it quite fascinating. I enjoy it. Recently when Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham completed 20 years, I scrolled past several reels on Instagram emulating Kareena Kapoor's look and Kajol's sari. I was overwhelmed by the memories; it made me realise how my past work is still relevant and permanently ingrained in the youth's spirit and that makes me feel humbled and happy.
What are your plans for global expansions after Reliance investments?
Expansion plans are under the way, we shall reveal the details soon. There could have been no better strategic partner to accompany us on our journey of global reach, business diversification, and renewed creative growth.
You've done multiple collaborations over all these years. Any lessons learnt? How do you navigate the art of collaboration? What do you look for in partners?
There is no hack to find the right collaboration. I just see if the collaborator is focused, analytical, and surgical with the artistic idea they want to partner me with. There should be a mutual level of effort involved, at the same time there can be different definitions of excellence, yet the whole point of collaboration justifies when two minds join forces to create something extraordinary.
Do you see home and decor furnishing as a key category for brand MM?
We'll soon be venturing into home and decor, it's all work in progress at the moment, and there's already a plethora of business endeavours on the plate, so you'll just have to wait and watch.
Also read: What does a global Indian wear? Tarun Tahiliani has an answer