Ace designer Manish Arora is a celebrated name in the fashion industry. Known for his rich and theatricality, his eclectic designs have created a blend of quirkiness with bright colours. Arora has made numerous product collaborations and successful ventures at Hong Kong and London Fashion week. Recently conferred France’s highest civilian award, Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, Arora speaks with Guardian 20 about his love for quirky designs.
Q. You have recently been conferred France’s highest honour for your contribution to the fashion world. How does it feel?
A. It was surreal and I regard it as my highest accomplishment. Everything I’ve achieved since I began my journey pales in comparison to receiving this incredibly prestigious honour bestowed on me by the French Government. It’s the highest regard of acceptance I feel I’ve received since embracing Paris as my second home.
Q. You have long-standing connection with France. You were the creative director of the womens’ wear collection of the French fashion house Paco Rabanne. How did it change your course of career in the fashion industry?
A. Becoming Artistic Director of Paco Rabanne was a milestone of sorts in my career. It came at a juncture where I really had the opportunity to reinvent the brand and I learned so much about the fashion industry during my stint. I really begun to understand the finer details of the French fashion world, thanks to the exposure and experience I gained at the label.
Q. You launched your own label "Manish Arora" initially and then second label, "Fish Fry." What is the reason behind such unusual label names?
A. It’s quirky, it’s crazy and really makes your nerves pop… much like me!
Q. You teamed up with make-up and cosmetics brand MAC and also designed a limited collection of Swatch watches. You also love to design jewellery. How do you manage to multi-task so well?
A. I live for it. What’s the point of calling yourself a creative individual if you don’t put it to good use? Design isn’t restricted to one aspect of fashion. Every genre has an art and aesthetic which I love to dabble in and broaden my horizon.
Q. Reebok launched the 'RBK Fish Fry Collection 2008' in 2008. Are you planning anything around sportswear designing?
A. I tend to incorporate a sportswear element in most of my collections.
My idea is to create the perfect blend of Indian craftsmanship with modern, contemporary designs and silhouettes with a global appeal.
Q. Tell us about your first menswear collection that you recently launched. Also, which, according to you, is easy to design: Men’s or women’s clothing?
A. I chose to collaborate with a platform like KOOVS in India to offer consumers an exclusive opportunity to own a signature Manish Arora product at accessible prices. Being a women's wear label predominantly, we thought it would be a great opportunity to cater to men for a change. We’ve incorporated a lot of lucid, colorful prints and graphics into this collection for the vibrant, fashion forward man of today.
The collection is a blend of varied inspirations that I picked up on during my travels. However, the most dominant one would be that of Temari balls. It is a form of folk art that originated in Japan and is still practiced in some regions. The collection comprises a range of apparels including bomber jacket, shirts, t-shirts, vests, sweatshirts, trousers, shorts and accessories including backpacks, high-tops, espadrilles, flip flops, socks and phone covers. The complete line features over 35 styles. It is available exclusively on www.koovs.com.
As far as designing is concerned, I think men’s clothing has been easier for me so far but that’s restricted to my experience on one collection and it was fairly subdued compared to my women’s lines since we were catering to a broader audience and lower price points.
Q. You are called by many as "the John Galliano of India". How do you feel being compared with him?
A. I think we both have our individual styles and are revered for them.
Q. You are known for your choice of a rich palette of psychedelic and quirky colours and bright motifs in garments that combine traditional Indian crafts like embroidery, appliqué and beading. What is the idea that goes behind such designs?
A. My idea is to create the perfect blend of Indian craftsmanship with modern, contemporary designs and silhouettes with a global appeal.