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Manish Malhotra gives wings to his sleeves

  • As the designer celebrates 30 years in the business, he presented a spectacle of a collection to open Lakme Fashion Week’s Winter/Festive 2019 edition
  • Winged blouse sleeves, ball gown-like lehngas and a stunner of a showstopper, Katrina Kaif encapsulated the collection

Manish Malhotra with showstopper Katrina Kaif.
Manish Malhotra with showstopper Katrina Kaif.

Bollywood’s favourite designer, Manish Malhotra, celebrated 30 years in the fashion industry with a grand opening show at the ongoing Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2019 (LFW). At Mumbai’s Famous Studios, around 70 models walked to Sufi and Hindi film music, such as Chhap Tilak and Mera Piya Ghar Aaya, showcasing Malhotra’s collection, Maahrumysha.

The designer presented an array of larger-than-life “ball skirts", structured blouses, bandhgalas and sherwanis. The garments, in whites, maroons and silver-greys embellished with his trademark sequins, glitter, thread embroidery and mirror-work, took forward what has come to be known as the Manish Malhotra aesthetic—and adding architectural winged sleeves, part sci-fi, part Zaha Hadid. Bollywood actor Katrina Kaif closed the show in a deep, emerald green lehnga with gold threadwork.

In his 30th year, Malhotra has ventured into the jewellery (in partnership with jeweller Raniwala 1881), beauty (in partnership with the make-up brand MyGlamm) and décor businesses, expanding the verticals of his mainstay brand. The response has been good.

Lounge caught up with the designer ahead of the show. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What are your signature style staples for this season?

For women, there are blouses that have winged accents on their sleeves, paired with sequined, trailing skirts. The backs will be interestingly designed, keeping in mind the outfit’s flow.

For men, there are smart kurtas with singular bold motifs, smartly cut trousers and fitted jackets with striking animal motifs.

What surface ornamentation or embroidery techniques have you incorporated?

The range of fabrics—wool, cotton and silk—is accompanied by just as wide a range of techniques. I have tried to incorporate a lot of delicate and pretty Kashmiri threadwork. There are sequins as well, but they are in pastel shades and look muted. There’s also zari work, in antique shades of gold.

What does the theme “our own style" encapsulate in today’s times?

While the idea is about being distinct, it’s not just for the sake of being distinct but also to be able to express oneself and one’s aesthetic. As a designer, I like to keep variety in whatever I am creating. In my career, I began with designing costumes to eventually starting a label and now I am branching out. I like that quality of being impatient. With every collection, I try to make it more vivid. It’s what keeps me excited.

Usually, designers take one thought and stick to it. In my case, I take a thought and break it into many smaller ones to show a clearer, bigger picture.

One of Manish Malhotra's signature wing-sleeve creations.
One of Manish Malhotra's signature wing-sleeve creations.

How have you translated your aesthetic into your jewellery, make-up and décor lines?

Everything we do, we try to incorporate glamour and glitz into it. But we also strive to be conscious of good quality. That’s one of the strongest feedbacks I have received regarding my make-up and furniture. It’s also about staying modern, contemporary and relevant, but, of course, retaining the essence of tradition in everything we do. Even when you see the brand’s gowns, it’s clear that an Indian designer has made it. I am keeping those roots in the garments, because the entire thought process is Indian, even though it has been translated via global fashion trends.

What have you learnt since you started out 30 years ago?

It has been very strange. My life is both planned and unplanned. But what I have learnt through the journey is that people and things might pull you down, and you will make mistakes, but you have got to let the work drive you and never give up.

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