“Come on, shoot!” laughed Manish Arora as he sat down for his final interview of the day. The Indian fashion designer and creative director of women’s wear for Paco Rabanne was in Hong Kong earlier this week for JOYCE’s private preview of their Spring/Summer 2012 collection, and had finally been seated after a drawn-out series of photo shoots.
Arora has a come a long way since launching his eponymous brand in 1997. In 2010, he participated in the first-ever Indian Fashion Week in his hometown of New Delhi and represented India at Hong Kong Fashion Week, which eventually led him to win Best Women’s Prêt Designer at the Indian Fashion Awards in 2004. Today, his work is regularly seen on the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, and the list of Arora-ites continues to grow.
“My work has always been about fantasy and storytelling,” he said, referring to his designs which have been called everything from camp to maximalist and science fiction. “I like prints because they help to tell a story, and I like structured clothes. People who wear my clothes are usually happy, and those who come see my shows go back with a smile.”
Calling himself “the happiest person in the room”, Arora continued: “I make clothes to feel good and my happiness shows through my work. Some people make clothes that are rather sad and depressing, and I just don’t see any logic behind that. Fashion should be enjoyed, and not taken too seriously.”
And serious, the man isn’t. For the Paco Rabanne S/S 2012 show, Arora put together a futuristic spectacle featuring girls in chain metal dresses that swept the runway, sculpted mini dresses with strong shoulder accents, exaggerated hourglass shapes and shimmering fabrics lit up by fibre optics.
And let’s not forget the flying saucer headgear designed by Philip Treacy, crystal-encrusted shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood and a finale of giant flappy foil dresses that engulfed the black models wearing them.
“My clothes are obviously for women who are very comfortable with themselves,” said Arora. “Women who are not scared to stand out in the crowd, women who are confident and definitely adventurous.” So when it comes to designing for these women, does Arora have a muse in mind?
“If I had a muse, it’d be in my fantasy. Of course, I have many interesting and popular and unusual people in my circles that could fall in the category of a muse, but I don’t want to think like that.”
These days, Arora splits his time between New Delhi and Paris, where he is busy designing two collections simultaneously for his own brand and Paco Rabanne. Although his appointment with the French fashion house was nearly a year ago, people still want to know whether he and Rabanne have any similarities.
“There is a lot of similarity in the way Paco Rabanne worked before and myself, but visually, you will not see it,” he replied, adding that innovation, craftsmanship and unconventional were the key elements that’d remain.
As for his own personal style? “I have my days and times. Sometimes I wear very colourful clothes, sometimes I like to be toned down. It’s not necessary that what I design is what I wear. What I show [in my collections] is actually what’s in my mind,” he said, pointing to his head.
However, Arora does love him some gold. “I have a weakness for gold, the colour,” he said, showing off his many gold rings and chunky oversized gold watch. “Give me anything in gold and I’ll be happy with it. And if it’s real gold I’ll be even happier.”
(Originally published on LifestyleAsia.com)