Manish Arora’s Great Inspirations
Indian fashion designer Manish Arora shares the sources on his inspiration for his bold fashions.
Designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Cynthia Rowley have long turned to India as inspiration for their fashion creations, but it wasn’t until Paris Fashion Week in 2007 that the country had one of its own fashion stars thrust into the international limelight. Among the sea of seasoned designers debuting their fall collections, the Mumbai-born Manish Arora was the first Indian invited to show his works at the prestigious event.
Arora was already highly regarded among cognoscenti around the world for his trademark A-line skirts, structured jackets and fitted trousers, but since the landmark occasion, his global reach hit a growth spurt.
“Fish Fry,” his ready-to-wear line, is sold at his four flagship boutiques in India and more than 75 stores internationally, including Saks Fifth Avenue in Dubai, Harrod’s in London and Galeries Lafayette in Paris. The brand is synonymous with bold colours such as blue, turquoise and gold, shades usually found in traditional Indian saris.
While Arora says he is flattered that the fashion world continues to be influenced by India, he has his own set of inspirations that shape his aesthetic and help make him an international name. He shares them with us:
Cirque du Soleil
Arora says that elements such as the whimsical costumes, acrobatic-based performances and unpredictability are a direct parallel to his playful designs.
At every turn of this market in Old Delhi, different coloured fabrics burst from stalls. It’s a must-visit destination for Arora to get ideas on how to work with various hues.
Jean Paul Gaultier
This French designer has drawn on India to create many of his collections. “I love the way he shows India to the world,” Arora says.
For Arora, animated movies present colour in a way that he is motivated to do in his works. “The colours just pop,” he says.
He’s not a fan of the direction of these movies, but Arora is attracted to their kitschiness and exaggeration and often uses Bollywood images on his skirts and dresses, such as actresses dressed up as brides.
“Similar to my work, there are so many ingredients in Thai curries . . . which work together to form a masterpiece,” Arora says. “Every time I eat a curry, I strive to achieve the same sense of balance in my designs.”
Memoirs of a Geisha
Arora says that he usually has no patience for books, but the detailed descriptions of the Japanese kimonos made this novel a page-turner. He has since incorporated the garment into his works by using them to make belts, fashioning kimono-like sleeves and sewing together ripped-up ones for dresses.
The warriors in Hindu classics such as the Mahabharata wear fitted leg armour and don body armour with exaggerated shoulders. Arora incorporates both of these elements into his collections, such as in the silk blouses with overstated sleeves and skin-tight trousers for his latest fall/winter collection.
The Indian designer is taken in with the precision of this Japanese city. “Everything is so exact—like how people count time in seconds,” he says. It’s this exactness that directs the same meticulous cuts in his designs.
Arora travels annually to this chic seaside resort for its beaches and a respite from fashion. “Goa is really the only time I escape from work,” he says. “But when I go back home, I design some of my best pieces.”