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The Mesmerising Tale of Manish Malhotra
- 26th Jan 2021
Manish Malhotra's name is synonymous with Bollywood and Indian fashion. It isn't an exaggeration to mention that each star, from Kareena Kapoor Khan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone to Sridevi, maybe a fan of his work. That is why it's hard to believe that the model-turned-costume-designer-turned-couturier made a reputation for himself with no professional training. “I didn't head to design school, but I did watch a movie almost every single day,” says the designer who always cite Bollywood.
You can trace the evolution of Indian fashion in tandem with Malhotra's work. Starting with Filmfare Award-winning costumes for Urmila Matondkar in Rangeela (1995), to showcasing at the primary edition of Lakmé Fashion Week in 2006, to designing theatre costumes for the play 'Mughal-e-Aazam' in 2016, and addressing Harvard students earlier this year, it's safe to mention Malhotra has done it all.
His notable contribution to Indian cinema by creating iconic looks for films like Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998), Mohabbatein (2000), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) is unmissable. But Malhotra's journey hasn't been without its highs and lows. “The great part about my period was that I used to be never jaded by opinions of others," he tells us. "I think I used to be resilient which helped shape my work ethic,” Vogue speaks to the veteran about what went into the making of his expansive legacy.
You are one of the rare names in fashion without a background in design education. What was your recipe to success?
I'm undecided if there's a recipe to success. It's an exact, formulaic connotation to that, which I will be able to never endorse especially because ‘success' may be a relative term. To me, anyone who finds their calling and is fortunate enough to pursue and practice it ethically and mindfully is successful.
Do you think having an education in design is completely crucial to having a career in fashion?
I've got been fortunate to possess a family that works with me and appears into the ancillary functions of the business of fashion. But I'm undecided if my label would are as successful had I been [working on it] solo. I do think that having an education empowers you and anchors your decisions. Having said that, the most effective education amounts to zilch if you do not have a passion for your work.
When initiating a career in design, did you have got a vision for yourself? what's your vision for the brand?
The vision was to be the most effective in whatever I did. I do know it sounds clichéd, but from a young age, I knew that I wanted to depart a legacy behind. It's an abstract vision, but, even today, I find myself asking myself inquiries to that end all the time. Idea or innovation? A store or an experience? I like to challenge myself and my team constantly—that is that the only thanks to growing!
How would you describe the industry environment once you first entered fashion? after I started my label 12 years ago, Indian fashion was still fledgling; the industry made clothes and failed to tell the stories that went into their making. It was some years after our economy opened. People had started traveling more and had such a large amount of more options to complement their lives and lifestyles. We had left the norm of austerity behind and had just started embracing aesthetics that helped us express ourselves.
This was an exquisite time on behalf of me to require my creativity beyond the silver screen. I used to be always focused on carving my very own niche. I achieved this by presenting the richness of Indian textiles and our centuries-old embroidery techniques in a way that immediately resonated with the trendy Indian woman. As far as I knew, I wasn't creating fashion, I used to be finding and presenting ways in which accentuated my clients' personalities.
What inspires your work?
I derive lots of inspiration from old-world charm. the wonder of older films, old architecture then on hold a special place in my mood-boards. This together with a way of drama and glamour within the detailing sums up the planning prism of my label.
Films to runway, how did you create the transition?
My journey into films was a natural progression of my love for films. I loved sketching. So, when it was time to specialize in a career, I simply made up my mind to bring my two passions together. on reflection, I believe I used to be fearless to own made this decision—I didn't know anyone within the film industry; I came from an easy Punjabi family in Mumbai.
I remember during my first few assignments, I accustomed keep requesting directors to grant me a script beforehand. I used to be categorical that I used to be not there to travel buy clothes. My work had to feature to the story-telling process and if this meant explaining, guiding and supervising tailors till the wee hours of the morning, I might bang. Even today, it's the memory of the hard work and single-mindedness of my period in costume design and styling that inspires me. I'm proud that I charted my course on my terms.
My label was the following chapter in my growth, both personally and in my profession. Up until then, the film's story and also the director's vision were key to my work. Launching a label meant that now I used to be captain of the ship. From devising the creative identity of the label to having a transparent business goal, I used to be a part of every detail that defines the label Manish Malhotra today.