The Baadshah of desi design: Manish Malhotra with his models adorned in flowy silhouettes with a vibrant palette of colour and rich embellishments | Albin Mathew
There’s one word to describe the Manish Malhotra experience: Madness. His first couture collection showing in the city has just finished. Glasses of white wine are clinked. Models are scurrying into changing rooms. Groups of chatter are starting to slowly form now, amid a rising feeling of anticipation. “My favourite piece was that fuschia pink sari with a black border and gold work...Wasn’t that brilliant,” someone is saying ecstatically. But the designer himself has disappeared from sight. The show is over - it’s Wednesday evening, and nobody wants to go home. Not without a piece of Manish first.
When this reporter finally finds him, he’s chatting with his models backstage. “You girls really must come to Mumbai,” he encourages as he hugs one girl and then gears up for a group photo with another bunch of backstage crew. It’s almost like a Bollywood movie, the girls are spread out in a line on either side of the star designer – he’s dressed in a chic but ethnic buttoned down black suit and poses for the camera with practised smouldering eyes. No smile, just steamy oomph. Hey, that’s fashion baby.
A little later, he graciously agrees to sit down for a chat when we hear a panicked female voice: “Manish they’re waiting for you. They’re tearing my clothes!” Is it always this mad, one has to ask. “Yes,” he smiles. “But I’m used to it now. I enjoy the madness.”
Five minutes later and we’re up to speed with his choc-a-bloc packed travel schedule. Dubai tomorrow for the Masala awards. Back to Chennai next week for a full day of meetings with clients...”I have lots of childhood memories of Madras,” he reveals. “I remember costume designing for one of my first songs in Chennai with Chiranjeevi and Sri Devi (Jagadeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari )and then there was Robot, Nayak, Sivaji...” he lists out. Despite this being his first fashion showcase in the South, our city is clearly a regular destination. “Also my brother lives here now,” he adds offhandedly, indicating a reason to visit more often.
No clothes have been torn yet, but Manish is being summoned frantically again. However, he does leave us with a sneak peak into his next collection. “There’s going to be a lot of Kashmir,” the designer hints suggestively. Although, as far South Indian designs go, he adds, “I love temple saris and traditional silks, so I’m definitely going to be working with those elements sometime in the future.”