In a world where everything stood still and nothing else mattered. He went beyond the screens, beyond the screens and created something magical. Ace designer, the insta-awesome-gram star and Bollywood’s most favorite person, Manish Malhotra introduced his bridge line DIFFUSE for the very first time at FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week 2022 in New Delhi on March 25, 2022.
Turning the catwalk into one BIG party where everyone was invited, Manish’s showcase was pumped with undying energy and glamorous ensembles. Actors Siddhant Chaturvedi and Shanaya Kapoor became showstoppers for Manish and shone in the stylish ensembles. In an exclusive interview with News18, the extraordinary designer spoke about the inspiration behind DIFFUSE, making fashion accessible, the celebrity showstoppers and bringing the magic of fashion, movies and fun to the Manish Malhotra world to life.
Excerpts from the interview.
How does it feel to return to a fully physical edition at FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week this year?
Ah, it’s always great to be back on the runway, and I’m so pumped, stoked and energized. Super excited! Running the digital show behind the scenes was a new experience in the pandemic. But since everything has stabilized, running the runway show behind the scenes is a very different atmosphere.
From your love of chikankari to your quest for digital prints, how smooth was the transition when creating Diffuse?
Well, it’s always the effort and years of experience to move from one segment to another while maintaining my signature aesthetic. The oscillation between couture and diffusion requires a lot of planning, research and, most importantly, a shift in the mindset of the entire team working on it. So, I’d say more than flexible, I needed to be more accessible and approachable in terms of putting together the designs and pricing to make the line portable.
The collection is young, vibrant and very fun, what is the story behind the fascinating prints?
A while back I had made limited edition abstract prints on stylized silhouettes in blocks of vibrant colors, mainly for the younger clientele. They loved it, so I thought let’s make a whole line about it. However, given the business aspect, I felt I had to keep the price conscious to cater to the youth demographic.
Do you believe that your designs set trends?
I don’t know about trends, but what I did in 2000 is trending now. For example Kareena’s [Kapoor Khan] Poo’s look resonates with today’s Y2k fashion, as well as some memorable runway designs that reflect the aesthetics of the current generation. I can never let go of my classics as they witness their existence in every weave amid the constant stream of fluctuating trends.
What was the inspiration behind the showstopper ensembles of actors Shanaya Kapoor and Siddhant Chaturvedi?
The inspiration behind Diffuse is about finding your core and self, so the showstoppers ensemble resembles their true persona with just the right amount of our signature ingredient – Glamour.
Bollywood and fashion go hand in hand in India, unlike in the west, where supermodels are preferred on the catwalk. Why do you think we need stars during fashion weeks in India?
My friends have always supported me whether it be walking for a show or attending a show or wearing my designs to red carpet events or other events. Urmila Matondkar was my first showstopper for my very first fashion show. I was just starting out as a designer in the industry and she was there as a friend. Likewise, actors like Kareena, Katrina, Deepika, Alia and Sara have walked out to show support. And it wasn’t really strategic. The concept of celebrity/influencer showstoppers became widely accepted, adapted and emulated at a much later stage. In addition, I have consistently worked with the best models/talents/artists who are also close friends and who have played an important role in creating and strengthening the brand.
Every embroidery, every print tells a story; what is that one runway story that will always be close to your heart?
The 8th annual ‘Caring with Style’ fashion show in support of the Cancer Patient Relief Association at the Cricket Club of India (CCI), Mumbai, in 2013. The rain was an unexpected but delightful greeting as the models and I were unaffected. It was such a fun experience as we walked down the ramp and raised money to save the lives of several children battling blood cancer. It’s these surprising yet incredible times when you realize that fashion is all about having fun.
Memories of this show that will take you back to Mumbai.
The overall experience, from ideation, curation, editing, rehearsal, behind the scenes to the last day, was unforgettable. My team and I, instead of emphasizing, just give our best in everything we do, and I feel like that’s what makes fashion week so much fun.
You have exhibited in Delhi after a very long time, how does it feel?
It’s no surprise that Delhi has given fashion a new dimension. It is undoubtedly known that the city has a brave style. My flagship store is also here. I love visiting, soaking up the atmosphere and drawing inspiration from the culture, people, architecture and let’s not forget their inclusive view in embracing bold and bright fashion choices.
As a celebrated designer who has worn many hats – makeup, costume design and directing – how do you manage to stay creative and relevant in today’s time?
I love what I do; companies and collaborations are part of the journey. I see fashion as an integrated look that includes design, styling and makeup. My love for cinema inspired me to create looks on screen while building a whole brand at the same time. Now I am fulfilling my childhood dream to sit in a director’s chair and bring the magic of fashion, movies and fun to life. It’s always about the journey for me. I believe in moving with the times. Moving with the times is the only way to keep up with change and stay relevant.
Read all the latest news, breaking news and the war between Ukraine and Russia here.