/ Couture Eye Candy

Couture Eye Candy

Aug 08, 2013

After a wildly successful second stint at London’s famed Fashion Week, Delhi-based Manish Arora has become the most revered fashion export from India, bringing high fashion to the masses and street style to the catwalk. With four boutiques throughout India bearing his name, his unmistakably psychedelic designs have gone global as the limited editions can be acquired at more than 75 specialty stores around the world, including Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and Harrods in London.

Acclaimed for exhilarating elegant clothing that blurs the division between romantic fashion and progressive sculpture, Arora’s lively, colourful, trend-centric collections are created from his global potpourri of travels throughout old world India and new world Europe, designed into one funky, ethnic look. No bridal trousseaus from Manish. Since 1994, when he graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi with the “Most Creative Student” award for his final collection, Arora has created stunning silhouettes worn by fashionistas including Anoushka Shankar and Bianca Jagger. A former protégé of Rohit Bal, Arora fortuitously turned down a job as a stylist for French Vogue, and used his natural design savvy to launch his namesake label in 1997 and later, launch the westernized, urban label Fish Fry in 2001.

Arora works double time to create a personal connection with his devotees. Unlike many of his peers, he actually enjoys presiding over trunk shows throughout the world so he can get to know his best customers. No one woman is his prototype. This allows for a myriad of women to buy into the Manish Arora aesthetic: an effortless, semi-Indian urban chic. Similarly, the 34-year-old designer does not subscribe to the idea that harmony defines the delicate balance between colour and fabrication. “My look is very embroidered and modern,” explains Arora. “I believe the whole world will see our edge in craftsmanship and in textiles. My clothes are all about colour – pinks, purples and electric blues. I don't believe in greys, and black and whites. I embrace colour and feel that clashing hues can be put together for a startling effect.”

Arora is the first Indian designer to lend his name to a multinational sports brand, as he is designing Reebok’s new range of shoes called The Fish Fry Collection. He sees it as a natural extension of his fashion business. Deeply coloured ornate patterns with opulent details transform everyday footwear into wearable works of art. A-list celebs such as Keira Knightley, Alicia Keys and Kate Bosworth are fans, each sporting the sneakers found only at the fashion mecca of Hollywood, Fred Segal.

“We sell in only one store in Los Angeles, and the fact that our shoes caught their attention was good news,” he says. Styles pay homage to Bollywood blockbusters like Sholay, Swades and Dil Chahta Hai. The Monsoon Wedding pair, favoured by actress Bipasha Basu, even glimmers with Swarovski crystals for late night cocktail hours.

Count Levi’s as Arora’s next mega fan – it recently launched a signature line with him. Sunil Sethi, a buyer for Britain's Selfridges & Co. chain says, “If you want kitsch India, contemporary India, Manish is your guy.”

Arora abhors minimalism. For the spring/summer 2007 collection titled ‘Life is Beautiful’, signature designs draw upon nature’s elements exploding in a theatrical array of kaleidoscopic prints and animal motifs. Arora describes it as an international line that is targeted at a global audience.

Voluminous skirts, tiered dresses, and slim cigarette pants are reinterpreted with exquisite haute couture tailoring in luxurious drapings of chiffon, organza, raw silk, brocades and jacquards in bold and unequivocal colour choices. Luscious embellishments such as hand woven embroidery, sequins and patchwork are interspersed with technology-driven prints to produce ornamental images of lotuses, daisies and parrots, among his omnipresent Hindu mythological musings.

The result is a decadent diorama between Indian and European bohemian sensibilities.

Unapologetically, Arora has single-handedly redefined the traditionally safe trappings of Indian fashion for women who maintain a vive la difference attitude towards the status quo. With flamboyant work ethics, Arora combines strict atelier skill with a fierce artistic eye. Indeed, his revealing, showy, fanciful styles aren’t for the fainthearted, but rather for the caged lioness.

Arora gleefully grins, “You don’t like my designs? You don’t have to. I am what I am.” Wear his mélange of colours or not, Manish Arora is the anti-establishment fashion icon – a designer of unabashed technicolour glory.



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