14:51 GMT29 October 2020
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    A pioneer in India’s costume design space, fashion designer Manish Malhotra has given stunning makeovers to Bollywood stars: from Madhuri Dixit Nene and Kajol to Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and many others. In his 30-year career, Manish has worked in over 800 movies and in many international fashion shows abroad.

    Ace fashion designer Manish Malhotra’s Fall 2020 Bridal Couture collection - Ruhaaniyat - launched recently at the first-ever Digital India Couture Week and left everyone charmed by the grandeur and opulence of the Mughal era.

    Manish has not only recreated designs in a more suitable palette for modern tastes, but has beautifully paired each collection with traditional Indian jewellery during the show.

    From accent borders that are zari-woven in original gold and silver to hand-basted and hand-quilted fabric, voluminous silhouettes, and deft embroidery, the collection was intrinsically crafted by his indigenous craftsmen and artisans.

    In an interview with Sputnik, the celebrated Indian designer Manish Malhotra talks about his collection Ruhaaniyat, his fascination with the Mughal era, and India’s fashion industry going digital with fashion shows and online stores.

    Sputnik: Your recent collection Ruhaaniyat has been much appreciated for its gorgeous appeal.  What inspiration helped you conceptualise it?

    Manish Malhotra: Ruhaaniyat is my tribute to all the artisans and craftsmen of our country who have left the fingerprints of their art onto our heritage culture. The collection captures cultural nuances of the Mughal era that was spread across Punjab state, Awadh (a place in Uttar Pradesh state), and Kutch (in Gujarat state). Revisiting the material milieu of the medieval era, the collection comprises varieties of attire such as kalidar kurtas, khada dupattas, ghararas, izar salwars for women, and jama, angrakha and shawls for men. The palettes are strictly maintained to match the hues of natural dying like teal, pistachio green, dusky pink, grey, and maroon.

    Sputnik: We see a strong influence of the Mughal era in your collections. What fascinates you about it so much?

    Manish Malhotra: There are countless emotions embedded in our historical narratives, but the aesthetic universe of the Mughal era stands out distinctly. Their visual imagery of clothes, make-up, and jewellery serves as one of the most refined craft treasures in India. At the mere glance, it invokes the period magnum opus styling and appeal and that’s something which fascinates me a lot.

    Sputnik: Actress Janhvi Kapoor, the daughter of late actress Sridevi, was the showstopper for your recent collection. How was your experience working with her?

    Manish Malhotra: Janhvi has an inherent style in her that's so reflective of late mother Sridevi. It's always a pleasure to work with her, and we are working together on a movie.

    Sputnik: The artisans and weavers have always been core pillars in the industry. How have you supported them during the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Manish Malhotra: As a designer, I feel it’s our obligation to help uplift them as they are at the grassroots level and during the pandemic, we've done everything in our capacity to support them in whatever way possible. I’ve not slashed any orders even with no scope or visibility of operations. Besides, we've taken every step to ensure our extended family (weavers) is being well taken care of at all times.

    Sputnik: India's fashion industry has gone online with digital India Couture Week (ICW). How was the response?

    Manish Malhotra: The response has been encouraging. Doing the finale for the first-ever digital show was an incredible learning experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Sputnik: Do you think digital fashion shows can replace live shows in the coming time?

    Manish Malhotra: That is something only time will tell. But both have their own pros and cons and quite contrary to my earlier thought, I enjoyed the digital medium as much as runways. So, it was indeed really a great experience.

    Sputnik: What are the pros and cons of a digital fashion show?

    Manish Malhotra: In a ground show, there is a physical human response element that does add in to the overall mood of a presentation. Whereas on a digital medium, it’s not only front row seats for everyone, but you can visually transport the viewer to your world and the emotions can be emphasised much more strongly. Moods can be showcased in better ways, whereas in a fashion runway show this doesn’t completely come through.

    Fashion runways have long been considered frivolous, but I feel they’re the biggest treat to the designer themselves. Also, we must not forget the pros of a fashion show, the kind of job opportunities it creates – for all creative talents, fashion runways are not only the medium to showcase their talent, but also secure a source of earning.

    Sputnik: You took the digital route earlier by launching your online store ManishMalhotra.in. How has the pandemic given a boost to the trend?

    Manish Malhotra: Digital dependence in our business has been there for over some time now. But with this pandemic, it has even become more crucial. It has brought a good shift in many ways. Nowadays, the brides are more accepting of the online chat, who were earlier interested to only meet in-person. So, the acceptance of the digital medium has increased and gradually, we are moving towards this new way of working. 

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