Ace designer Manish Arora is known for seamlessly fusing traditional crafts with innovative modern fits and silhouettes in his designs. For over two decades, Arora has been redefining Indian by placing it in a global context. In 2007, his Spring Summer-’08 collection marked his debut at the Paris Fashion Week (PFW), putting the Indian subcontinent on the global fashion map. A decade later, in 2017, he celebrated his 10th anniversary of showcasing at the PFW with a magnificent show at the Grand Palais that was an interplay of colours, quirk and everything quintessentially Manish.

Manish Arora.

Guardian 20 recently caught up with Arora to talk about his journey and his decade-long association with the PFW. He said, “I am honoured to have been a part of the prestigious Paris Fashion Week as the only Indian designer showcasing since the last 10 years. The platform is an important one as it has given me the opportunity to represent India in its pure vibrancy.”

He continued, “I was discovered by Maria Luisa in 2003 during my show in an Indian fashion week, from where my journey into the international fashion world began.”

The designer also talked about his latest collection. He said, “My Autumn Winter 2018 collection, ‘Orange is the new Zen’, is about spirituality, inspired from Zen Buddhism and meditation. It takes you on a journey from beautiful cherry blossom to the mystical creatures from pagan legends.”

Arora has been bestowed with titles like the “King of Kitsch” and “the Indian John Galliano” during his journey in the world of fashion. About this, he said, “When people look at creative work they give it different names and identities. I believe that I am an original and I
am myself.”

The designer’s association with the PFW has been a fruitful one—from presenting his unique technicolour vision to the fashion world to helming Paco Rabanne, a French fashion house. He spoke to us about how Paris influenced his work: “Paris has taught me a lot, it taught me exactly where and when to stop. Since my Paris experience, every millimetre is significant when I am designing anything.”

Arora also talked about his experience of working with Paco Rabanne. “I learnt how to take fashion seriously when I worked for Paco Rabanne, and most of all it also taught me how to live in Paris,” he said.

Celebrating the wonderful history of Indian civilisation through his designs, Arora continues to add to his already impressive body of work.

What are the factors he keeps in mind when designing for French buyers, and how do they differ from Indian buyers? Arora told us, “I do not design for any particular person or people from a particular territory. I design what I want to offer to the world.”

On the evolving fashion sensibilities of Indians, he said, “I would say that they are on their way and they would take some time, as our tradition and culture is very deeply rooted, which is extremely good, but to find a balance between innovation and tradition can be hard.”

Arora’s latest collection, “Orange is the new Zen”, at Paris Fashion week.

Arora marked his beginnings in the international fashion industry with the London Fashion Week in 2005. London, as we all know, is a highly competitive fashion market. Did Arora face any challenges there?

“London was very kind and supportive to me, both in terms of sponsorship and introducing me to the international fashion week scene. I must thank London for helping me with my groundwork to face Paris,” he answered.

The designer also gave us some insight into the emerging fashion trends of 2018. “Being yourself has always been and will always be the biggest trend,” he said.

Does he see menswear becoming more popular among Indian designers in the near future? “It’s not entirely true that menswear designing is not popular among designers. It’s just that the demand for women’s clothes is more compared to men’s. Although this difference is now quickly diminishing.”

Arora has recently ventured into perfume design as well. He has launched a new series of fragrances in collaboration with Designer Parfums. They come in three different scents—intense red, hot pink and deep orange. About the collaboration, he said, “Fragrances are a part of my world and of my culture. They contribute to making life beautiful and this is my credo in everything I am doing. The process of creating the fragrance has been a beautiful journey and I look forward to sharing it with everyone soon.”

Having dominated the European fashion scene, he is now looking East to expand his eponymous label. With strong sales in China, he has already opened two stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in December 2017 and plans to open three more this year, consolidating his place as a formidable force in fashion.

Arora also unveiled his new creative studio in Delhi earlier this year. Speaking about his design studio in Chhatarpur, he said, “The space is my design studio, epitomising happiness, joy, and glorious celebrations, illustrating what makes life truly beautiful. Fashion is not all about glamour—at the end of the day, it is a job.”

 

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