Sunday 26 March 2017

The Tribal and Celestial At Manish Arora

Manish Arora takes his bow after his ebullient tenth anniversary collection in Paris earlier this month. Photograph and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM 
Fashion designer Manish Arora started his career in Mumbai but this season celebrated 10 years of showing his ready-to-wear collections in Paris. His latest runway show mixed the tribal with the galactic, burgeoning with coveted pieces such as form fitting, embellished denim with brilliant colours and embroidery~ key trends for the autumn/winter 2017 season. We take a look back at his career and his vivid new work that is sleeker but still has his bohemian signature, Jeanne-Marie Cilento writes. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Psychedelic tribal motifs
MARKING ten years of ready-to-wear collections in Paris, Manish Arora held his latest show in the great domed edifice of the Grand Palais, rather than at the more cramped and eccentric spaces of previous seasons. Called Cosmic Love, the new show was full of whimsical astronomical references, strong colour and rich embroidery. Considered by many as the John Galliano of India, Arora's collections are known for their palette of luminescent colours and eclectic motifs that combine traditional Indian artisan workmanship such as appliqué and beading with Western silhouettes. Arora's collection in Paris was set to tribal beats and burst with a bevy of contrasting textures, patterns and ideas. African tribal tropes mixed with celestial themes, including tall head dresses, embroidered wraps and pearls decorating models’ faces.

Called Cosmic Love, the new show was full of whimsical astronomical motifs, strong colour and rich embroidery

Shooting stars & celestial galaxies
The designer started out life in India, growing up in Mumbai and going on to study commerce at university before applying for the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi. By1994 he had graduated, winning a Best Student Award. Only three years later, Manish Arora launched his own eponymous label in India. By 2000, he was part of the first India Fashion Week held in New Delhi and then showed at the Hong Kong Fashion Week. A year later, the designer launched his second label, Fish Fry with Reebok, which has been an ongoing association. He opened his first flagship store, Manish Arora Fish Fry, in New Delhi, a second store in Mumbai with others following in Kuwait. By the time he had had another successful show at India Fashion Week in 2003, Maria Luisa in Paris began stocking his pieces and he launched his international business.

Arora has continued to be awarded, including the Best Women's Designer at the Indian Fashion Awards in 2004 held in Bombay and at Miami Fashion Week, where he was presented with the designer's choice for Best Collection Award. He expanded his label into the UK, debuting his collection at London Fashion Week in September 2005 where he received a great response from both press and buyers. Arora has exhibited some of his work, including jewellery, at the Victoria & Albert Museum for various exhibitions. Last year he received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and wore the insignia this month as part of an Indian delegation invited to meet Queen Elizabeth II, part of the U.K India Year of Culture.

Last year Manish Arora received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and wore the insignia this month as part of an Indian delegation invited to meet Queen Elizabeth II

Embroidered denim & velvet booties
Against the backdrop of a Europe in crisis, Manish Arora's  Cosmic Love collection in Paris celebrated a happier vision of the future, perhaps reflecting his own success and his ten years showing in the French capital. The festive aesthetic and space age references included shooting stars and sunbursts, meteors,  paisley patterns and Swarovski crystals on silk and velvet tunics. This season, Arora's usual eccentric collection of people wearing his clothes was replaced with lithe models in a more streamlined yet exotic collection. He mixed earthy tribal motifs, Aztec, Art Deco and peacock prints with spacey rockets, planets, and constellations. Apart from the embroidery and crystals mixed with digital prints, he created figure-hugging denim that was treated with appliqué, hand-cut velvet and wool patchwork. These denim pieces all looked very wearable (without the tall head pieces) as did the bomber jackets, silk trousers and velvet booties encrusted with sparkling diamante.

This season, Arora's designs had a deeper, richer palette with ochres, dark green, royal blue and burgundy ~ all enhanced by opulent fabrics like velvet, silk twill and boiled wool. The galactic leitmotifs of planets and shooting stars were printed or embroidered on to sweatshirts, coats and dresses and contrasted with the more geometric, diamond-shaped Aztec designs that had a Seventies feel. Peacock embroidery featured on lavish gowns including the paisley patterns embellished with crystals. Arora’s new sweatshirts reinterpreted the genre in magenta velvets and silk and designed with stars and space stations while intergalactic prints on colourful padded coats and moon-shaped handbags added to the picture of a contemporary, athletic collection with stylish silhouettes and a dash of whimsy enriched by the embroidery of new galaxies and stars.

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High head dresses and fringed, woven neck pieces with Seventies style patterns created Manish Arora's eclectic aesthetic

Rich velvet and embroidered capes in bright pink, red and blue

Crystal encrusted gown with sunbursts and paisley decoration with deep-red boots

Fuchsia pink, red and yellow enliven a blouson top and full skirt
 Tall head dress, digitally printed shooting stars on a tunic top, swirling zebra stripes and sparkling, embellished boots.
Fringed, knottted necklaces added to the tribal ethos 
Brilliant emerald green peacock feathers, black ruching and burgundy velvet, studded booties
Starbursts, planets and paisley on silk and velvet 
Sweatshirts with digitally printed galaxies and planets

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