COUTURIER TO BOLLYWOOD ROYALTY, MANISH MALHOTRA COMMENTS ON THE CREATIVE SMORGASBOARD THAT IS INDIA
Manish Malhotra shares the secret of his creative inspiration
Rom“ancing India is not new; as an Indian designer, therefore, it is my primary influence and inspiration”
From its history, to art, culture, fabrics, weaving and embroidery techniques, colour palettes to people, inspiration is always around the next corner in India. We have a deep- rooted heritage, especially when it comes to fabrics and costumes. Every part of the country has its own signature style and exquisite repertoire of weaves, embellishment, embroidery, and handicraft. Over the past several seasons, even on international catwalks, an Indian influence has been more than evident, whether in colour, the fabrics used, embroidery and embellishments, or jewellery. Of course, this is not new— romancing India has been a constant over centuries.
As an Indian designer, then, of course all of this remains my primary influence and inspiration. As an artist, I feel it is my prerogative to revive craftsmanship and showcase forgotten crafts on the runway. For me, it all started with the exquisite chikankari work from Mijwan, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, where I found myself at an NGO run by Shabana Azmi. The needlework done by the Mijwan girls was exquisite and intricate. It inspired me to embrace our culture and influence buyers to appreciate the craftsmanship and the hard work that goes into it.
My next muse was the intricate Kashmiri thread work - which I discovered when I visited Kashmir, while styling for the movie Rockstar. In search of authenticity, we went shopping in Srinagar, Pehelgam, and I came across this beautiful form of embroidery, which has now taken morphed into my signature style. The embroidery is very clean, intricate and has an understated elegance to it, which I admire.
Recently I used the vivacious and exuberant phulkari and bagh work from Punjab in my “Threads of Emotions” collection. And, in ‘ Reflections’, which I showed at the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2013, I used a lot of mirrorwork from Rajasthan and Kutch.
The muses are not just craft and fabric, though. For my collection at the grand finale of PCJ Couture Week, my designs were inspired by India in the 1930s, when it
really was the Raj era – with princely states, and the British influence. I blended traditional Indian motifs with details from Indo- British architecture, and used fabrics such as Chantilly lace, and vintage silks. In my mind, I imagined kings and queens meeting with British envoys and viceroys, and channelled that era of affluence and opulence.
As an Indian designer, my hope is to be able to discover, and showcase not just forgotten craft techniques, but also highlight facets and chapters of our culture and history that have slipped away from our collective memory. Fashion is, after all, an expression of who we are, and what we believe in. And I believe in the muse, that is India.
CELEBRATES ‘ PHULKARI AT WIFE 2013 ( FAR
KASHMIRI WORK WHICH HAS NOWBECOME KNOWN AS HIS SIGNA
TURE ( LEFT); DELHI COUTURE WEEK COLLEC
TION 2013 ( RIGHT)