Mirrors are overdone, and Benaras is being taken up by every designer that Manish Malhotra has dropped the idea for his next line. ‘‘There is a sea of sameness. Instead of being wannabe, I’d rather reinvent a tunic,’’ he says. Given the many copies of his designs seen in local stores and his trademark style in big budget movies, red carpet appearances and celebrity weddings, it is evident that Malhotra continues to be Bollywood’s go-to designer. But this year, he says he wants to focus on expansion overseas. Jaded by red carpet politics where an actress has at least five social engagements a day to promote a movie, and therefore five different ensembles, he says, ‘‘It is a mess right now and very different from three years ago. The actor-designer loyalty is missing and with so many outfits a day, it’s hard to pin down one look, one designer. I have been there, done that and now I want to connect to a lot more people. My journey is different from that of most designers.’’
Calling the shots
That said, while stylists to the stars create editorial-worthy ensembles that cleverly marry edgy brands with international luxury labels, it is Malhotra who can bring together the biggest Bollywood families on the runway or to his front row. In April, his show in association with the Mijwan Welfare Society saw five heavy-duty parent-child duos walk the runway, including Amitabh Bachchan and Shweta Nanda, together with Anil and Sonam Kapoor. As the Mumbai-based designer modestly puts it, his label may be only a decade old, but his association with Bollywood is in its landmark 25th year. Is there a coffee table book coming up to mark this, we ask, and Malhotra shrugs. Perhaps. After all, here is a designer who can claim the most number of sightings of Indian celebrities in his clothes.
The actor is busy with Bollywood movies - Bajrangi Bhaijaan, where he has styled Kareena Kapoor, or Fitoor, where he has worked with Tabu - and even Vijay’s Tamil movie with Sridevi, Puli, or Rajnikanth’s next. Unabashedly admitting to making his clients - star or non-celebrity - look younger and slimmer, he reasons, ‘‘It’s a reflection of my personal journey too and what I want for myself!’’
As for his current collection, colour and vintage embroidery rule. ‘‘There must be romance in a garment. How creative is it to pair a white shirt with a lehenga?’’ he asks. This season’s shade chart includes aqua green, watermelon red and rose pink, besides his trademark ivory and beige. Playing a significant role at The Vogue Wedding Show in August, he is just the person who can make the bride rock her wedding. Going by the stampede at his stall at the event last year, and the reception to his Vogue Wedding Show preview in Dubai recently, brides-to-be will do well to make an appointment. The Vogue Wedding Show is from August 7 to 9 at New Delhi’s Taj Palace hotel.