Haute Talk: Designer Manish Malhotra
What does luxury mean to you?
At times, luxury means simply having time for myself; given that I work on a crazy schedule! And sometimes, luxury is about just having things in order. neat, clean and tasteful. But at the moment, it definitely means a holiday. I've been so caught up with work that I haven't even had the time to think about one. But it's something I'm looking forward to!
Tell us something about the new collections you're working on.
My new collection comprises opulent Indian evening wear in dual tone colours; ivory being a favourite. I've also been working a lot with Kashmiri crafts like tila and thread work. I recently did an entire show at Lakme Fashion Week based on Kashmiri influences. Chikankari is also something I often use. I firmly believe that every designer should stick to their DNA. Internationally, every design house, from Armani to Burberry, has a signature style. A Burberry print, for example, is something you'd recognise instantly. So, stay true to your DNA, but keep reinventing yourself. Indian fashion critics, however, don't understand that; they label you as being repetitive.
How would you define your signature design sensibility?
I love net and flowing silhouettes! I don't necessarily give a very arty kick to my designs. I do what I love. I don't look for
international buyers because the best stores in the country covet my clothes.
Why the fascination with Kashmir?
I was there for the shoot of Rockstar. I was mesmerised by the beautiful embroidery and colour combinations. I'm completely colour-oriented. I haven't studied fashion; but I used to paint. So I love experimenting with colours.
What are the wedding trends this year?
The theme seems to be classic. Going back to our tradition, there's a lot of flair and volume. Fuchsia is the colour for this season, apart from coral and royal blue, which are modern. Even the reds have a touch of pink. Several brides have approached me saying that they want to wear a long kurta over a ghagra. So, silhouettes, as well as colour combinations are changing.
Any tips you'd like to give brides and grooms-to-be?
As a bride, you should concentrate on volume as that's in this season. Invest in good jewellery and stay away from too much bling. I would advise to keep it minimal and play with textured embroidery and colours. Grooms should go for structured sherwanis, stay away from shiny fabrics, and focus on clean and simple cuts. I like the sharp, textured look for men.
What trends are you looking forward to in 2012?
Next year will be all about less bling and less embroidery. There will be a lot of traditional elements and old-world charm. The straighter look will also be big. But personally, I like voluminous and flowing fabrics.
Which colours do you think will make it really big next season?
It'll be more of orange and yellow. Fuchsia will continue to rule the next season too. I'm planning to use a lot of yellow with lime green in my collections.
What's your personal style statement?
I prefer simple, neat lines, clean cuts and non-fussy outfits. Jodhpuri suits and bandhgalas are back in a big way. The new generation also loves traditional outfits, but one needs to make it interesting to wear. Personally, I love a basic pair of well-fitted jeans and good shoes. Or I'd go for a shirt and a waistcoat as I'm not a suit person at all. I also love wearing Indian clothes.
Who, according to you, are some of the best dressed people in India and internationally?
Among the best is Amitabh Bachchan, without a doubt! Then, there are others like Shah Rukh Khan and Abhishek Bachchan. Rekha has timeless appeal, as does Sharmila Tagore. Among the new generation, Kareena Kapoor. Internationally, I think Madonna is a fashion icon; she is constantly reinventing herself. I think internationally, men keep it simple; you see well-fitted, clothes. Tom Ford, for example, is very fashionable, very smart and clean-cut.
Who are your muses?
Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai- Bachchan and Karisma Kapoor.
Is there any celebrity you haven't worked with and would like to dress?
Throughout my career, I think I've dressed everyone in the Indian film industry. Internationally, too, I've dressed the likes of Michael Jackson, Naomi Campbell and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Where do you seek inspiration from?
Inspiration is all around me. I draw inspiration from day to day life¡¦from things, people, environment, and architecture.
Among your contemporaries, who do you admire?
I admire Rohit Bal's work. The grandeur and cool quotient in his clothes is something I really like. I also like Shahab Durazi and Ritu Kumar. They are all my seniors and I respect and admire them.
What are the absolute must-haves in your closet?
A pair of well-fitted blue and black jeans, black shirts, good belts and great shoes. I also have my own sherwanis. But my favourite is a pair of Burberry jeans because they make me look slim! Also, a black shirt with white lining is something I absolutely love.
What is the one item in your closet that defines luxury?
A good belt. I have a lot of jackets by Emporio and Giorgio Armani, and belts by Hermes and Dior that I love.