Could Manish Malhotra be finally coming of age? Is the designer, best known for his glamourous Bollywood-esque elegance, be taking a more austere route? If designer’s menswear show at Lakme Fashion Week Winter-Festive 2015 is anything to go by, he is indeed transforming his stance.
Case in point, I was at an exclusive Manish Malhotra menswear preview, a few days before the Lakme Fashion Week show, and I was quite happy with what I saw — about half a dozen dapper silhouettes presented suits, sherwanis, bandhgalas and bundi jackets, in classic deep blue and black hues. The ‘Manish’ brand of glamour was indeed present in the form of shiny embellishments, however, this time, I saw them discreetly and strategically placed at a few points of the ensembles, like the cuff, shoulders, lapels and plackets. No more over-the-top B-town opulence, but a slick, sartorial and international collection, designed for the urban Indian male.
I asked him about this and here’s what he told me, “I think as you evolve, you realise that you want to say a lot more and yet say a little less. Today, less is more. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top, but it has to be out there. You can make a statement with just a flower on a pocket, with a pocket square or with a discreet gold accessory.”
What, then, prompted Manish Malhotra to launch an exclusive menswear collection after ten years of his label and over fifteen years in the fashion industry? And why did he wait till 2015 to do this?
“For the longest time, I have only been running. I went from modelling, to designs and then to film costumes. I was always busy shooting something or the other. Then I worked with a boutique followed by designing for movies. As a result I’ve always been busy. Which probably explains why it took me so long to get to menswear. At a point, I was doing absolutely everything — dresses, saris, suits. Anything at all. I asked myself, ‘what do I specialise in? What am I known for?’ I started womenswear and the logical continuation for this was menswear. And here we are today. I was contemplating a men’s collection for three years. Now, in the courtyard of my ‘Haveli’ store in New Delhi, I am opening a separate menswear store.”
I ask the designer to describe the characteristic style of Manish Malhotra menswear? “At fashion week, most menswear shows are all about fun and frolic. Lots of masti. My show is a serious take on fashion. It’s all about a chic, confident man, who can pull off a sweater with a velvet tie.
A few days later, at Manish’s Lakme Fashion Week show, attended by the who’s who of Mumbai society, I was happy to discover a bevy of silhouettes, ranging from blazers and bandhgalas to trend coats and long sherwani. An infusion of international street style influences was also visible.” In fact, even the name of the collection — The Gentlemen’s Club — exudes an international dapper feel.
“The main identity of my collection is always Indian. I like the idea of promoting Indian craft and Indian crafstmen. I feel that’s the only way we have a different voice. In today’s world, we all must have a voice. Though, this is the first time, I’ve introduced such overtly Western silhouettes. Make no mistake, I will continue to use a lot of silk and velvet because I am a rich and articulate designer. And that’s what people come to me for. My menswear is serious. There aren’t going to be any guys walking the ramp, whistling and doing masti.” (a subtle reference to some of the more theatrical menswear shows we’ve seen at Lakme, perhaps?).
I leave you with a few pictures from Manish Malhotra’s menswear show at Lakme Fashion Week. In the cavernous setting of one of Mehboob Studio’s studios, 78 looks were showcased, which largely centred around Indian menswear staples — bandhgalas, bundi jackets, sherwani — along with a range of tailored Western suits. As Manish promised, there was lots of velvet, lots of rich colours and botanical motifs, embroidered into pieces. Monochromes as well as multi-coloured separates dominated the ramp and Ranbir Kapoor, in a burgundy suit, had everyone raving. I loved what I saw and I can’t wait to see how the designer interprets menswear over the next few seasons.