Friday 1 March 2019

Manish Arora's Bohemian Tribe Ignite Paris Fashion Week

  Manish Arora's dramatic AW19/20 show at the American Cathedral in Paris with extravagant headdresses and sequined gowns. Shot for DAM by Elli Ioannou

Amid anodyne pret-a-porter shows at Paris Fashion Week, Manish Arora offered a tribe of brilliantly-hued urban warriors for his Autumn/Winter 2019 collection. The designer, wielding his pencil like a conductor his baton, created music from an orchestra of seemingly discordant instruments. Yet his mastery of colour and composition underpinned the theatricality of the show, producing covetable pieces, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou 

The Manish Arora show at
American Cathedral in Paris
SET under the soaring stone arches of the Gothic American Cathedral in Paris, Manish Arora's jewel-coloured new collection recalled the luminous hues of the stained glass windows above.

There was a tremendous buzz of expectation among the pews from the audience before the show. As guests took their places, they fell into an enthralled silence as the first models appeared wearing intricate masks by Dan Schaub and sparkling sequined gowns in a palette of vibrant blues and pinks. Bucolic scenes of cyclists and punks in platform shoes printed or embroidered on skirts and dresses contrasted with the dramatic masks and headpieces.

Manish Arora wields his designer's pencil like a skilled conductor with his baton, creating wonderful music from an orchestra of seemingly discordant instruments. His masterful grasp of colour and cut underpinned the drama of the show, with many desirable pieces. The accessories were standouts too with some intriguing 3D bags in the shape of cars and animals and backpacks with flashing lights.

Withal the horned headdresses and shimmering masks, the designer called the show "Finally Normal People" and had it emblazoned on to the sweater of a hooded model with a face powdered in orange. Arora says the collection was inspired by his own spirituality and the feverish excitement of festivals such as Burning Man.

He describes the characters in his show as "motley cru of Mad Max bohemians straight out of a dystopian future." Shielded by jewel-encrusted visors, Arora imagined the models as apocalyptic androids in desert landscapes with flames embroidered on to floor length trenches covered with graffiti.

The characters in Manish Arora's show are described as "Mad Max bohemians straight out of a dystopian future"
Even though Arora's vision is of an Armageddon, he still managed to create a cheerful ambiance with rose-coloured hues, sunset oranges and striking fluorescent tones. For the digital generation, in love with Instagram, holistic regimes and positive slogans, he emblazoned inspiring messages on faux-fur sweatshirts and t-shirts: What if this is all real, I am the one I have been waiting for and Everything you need is inside of you.

Feathered headpiece mixing motifs worn
with a beautiful, padded jacket with
embroidered patches
Another trope in the designer's personal artistic canon is the contemporary hippy, this time wearing indigo denim, patch worked with crests and teamed with Seventies psychedelic florals. The designer's signature eclecticism and peripatetic travels through different eras also included Art Deco silhouettes and patterns.

There were references to Charleston party girls, reimagined as futuristic flappers, flouting social conventions wearing bugle-beaded scalloped dresses teamed with mesh sneakers and LED backpacks. A sporty motif ran through the collection with hoods and capes in reflective materials.

Arora wanted to create the sense of a world tribe, fusing Navaho, Indian, Tribal and Americana leitmotifs in the collection. There are country and western fringes combined with Native American feathers, peacock prints and tasselled Indian headdresses. Aesthetically he mixed pop art with Hollywood glamour in optical cotton prints with a psychedelic swirl of sequins. But under the theatrical set pieces there were some wonderful clothes. A beautifully cut jacket and swinging A-line skirt could be worn everyday but just without the accessories of a furry, multicoloured hood adorned with pink sequined cones and a spiralling, pair of double unicorn horns.

Arora wanted to create a world tribe, fusing Navaho, Indian Tribal and Americana leitmotifs in the collection

The exuberant show also included some highly collectible accessories including purses ~ shaped like a shark and VW van ~  bags and backpacks lit up with LED lights. But the striking feather headdresses were the standouts with their horns, masks with flashing lights, and a grand finale with sticks of burning incense worn like a crown.

Although the collection appeared over the top, there were some very wearable pieces below the fluorescent fur and multitude of embellishments, including long fluid gowns and trousers in every shape and size from voluminous to slim and shapely. The thirty-four looks in the show all had a mix of Arora's sense of fantasy enlivened with vivid colour and this gave it an unlikely sense of cohesion. The fringing, leopard print, patches, sequins and embroidery all came together to create a collection that may have had its own language but in the end spoke to everyone.

See gallery below for highlights from the show
A beautiful, form fitting, sequined gown with Art Deco motifs topped off by one of the collection's extraordinary headpieces.
A silky hoodie with flames curling up the sides and graffiti, worn with a finely detailed sequined sweater.
An intricate fitted bodice in acid green is paired with a shimmering, puff sleeved gown, a bejewelled mask and blue, embellished hood.
A masterfully draped jacket worn with a pretty skirt embroidered with rainbows and bucolic scenes of punks wearing platform shoes and carrying placards, children on bicycles, playing at the beach and cars sprouting palm trees.

A crown of incense and an elaborate mask atop a brilliant bodice and dress with an wonderful peacock pattern.
The headpiece that sits on the faces of the models and designed to match the gowns.
A scintillating sequined evening gown that is designed with peacock feather patterns and fitted close to the body. The headpiece is an optional extra for the bal.
This jacket show's Manish Arora's virtuoso ability to combine colour, texture and pattern with its hear-shaped padding, charming patches and silky flames at the edges.

Add Indigo denim mixed with leather sky blue fringing and psychedelic patterned trousers and top
One of the highly desirable bags shaped like a cute little van and lit up inside.  

Manish Arora mixes Navaho, Indian and Country and Western motifs with a sure hand.
The fish handbag with its serrated teeth, pink mouth and silvery scales, adds to this looks heart-shaped belt and fluffy, faux fur jacket in mauve, green and orange. 
A wild pink concoction mixing faux fur, a rose encircling a unicorn horn, a heart-shaped skirt and a t-shirt with the slogan
"I am the one I have been waiting for".

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