As part of the Textiles India 2017 summit, IMG Reliance Industries Ltd curated a fashion show titled Symphony of Weaves, which traced the evolution of textiles.
It showcased creations from a combination of established and emerging designers and master craftsmen from across different textile traditions, languages and states of India. The who's who of the fashion industry took part in the show, such as Anamika Khanna, Anita Dongre, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Malhotra.
Well-known designer Manish Malhotra has carved a niche for himself in the fashion industry and has helped Indian fashion reach a global level. Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, the ace designer shared his views on India's handloom sector, Bollywood, fashion and his journey as a designer.
What do you think about this one of-a-kind initiative?
India has always had a very rich textile history and I am very glad that platforms like the Symphony of Weaves at Textiles India 2017 are reviving and celebrating this legacy. Under the stewardship of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and the vision of (textile minister) Smriti Irani, the platform is a great foundation for artisans as well as Indian designers and brands to meet, engage and learn towards making innovations and going global.
The coming together of so many artisans at the event is proof of the textile diversity of the nation. Each of the showcasing designers has also interpreted handlooms and crafts techniques in their own unique signature. This presents a vast range of choice for not just local, but also the global consumer.
Tell us about your collection curated for this show?
I've focused on Chikankari. My collection is my way of paying tribute to India's heritage, culture and the textile industry. Although they are simple and elegant pieces, I've done it in a modern and glamorous way. The collection is a combination of traditional and contemporary silhouettes in pastel hues such as the blush pink, champagne and powder blue. Meticulously crafted using the classic Chikankari embroidery from Mijwan, Uttar Pradesh, this collection is perfect for the contemporary Indian man and woman. I, along with Shabana Azmi, adopted this village in UP five years ago. Then there were only 40 women and today there are 350 and its all about empowerment. And every year I do a show and lot of film stars endorse it. I like to add sparkle and glamour to my clothes, which has become my signature. I always add modernity in my clothes.
Do you think adding modernity to the traditional ways will popualrise them among youth?
I think yes and that's my sensibility. That's the essence of my brand. I like glamour and I'm unapologetic about it. When I started I got into movies and I remember mainstream people used to call me a costume designer, especially people from my fraternity. But today I've the last laugh as everyone not only makes film stars wear their clothes, but everything is shimmer and glamour, from showstopper to front row stars. I wasn't intimidated then and I'm not intimidated now. I'm just stuck to my belief and I see beauty in every woman. I always believe everybody can look beautiful.
Do you think weavers/craftsmen of our country are being given their due credit?
I believe that the first step to any change is awareness. Prime Minister Modi has been very forthcoming about it and this is just the beginning. I'm sure there would be lot more to come.
How do you think Bollywood can help popularise our handloom sector?
Bollywood is doing it already, be it Red Carpet or their public appearances. This industry is really supporting different textiles by endorsing them in its own way.
How has your journey been as a designer so far?
When I started my career at the age of 23 in 1990, from Day one I have seen embroidery weavers, the way they work, their talent, the craft and one tends to imbibe that. Later on, having started my own label and then going to Banaras, starting Mijwan in UP and bringing work in Kashmir, my journey as a designer has been quite unique. From modeling to costume designing and then having my label, which is one of the top labels in the country, now I have a path which is very certain. I definitely want to do a lot more in the coming days.
What keeps you determinedly motivated?
I am a workaholic. I love to work and I hate Sundays. I'm in love with my work and not with anybody else (laughs). It's all about dedication. I would sacrifice anything for my work from outing with my friends to relationship to anything.
If there's one piece of garment, handwoven or anything, that you can pick from your mother's closet and style it your way, what would it be and why?
My mother is 86 now. I have so much respect and regard for all the 50s 60s handwoven clothes, that I wouldn't want to change it at all. Today everything is short-lived. There is so much depth and time in clothes of that time period and (they) are very classy. In today's time everything is short-lived.
Do you think our handloom sector is being fully utilized?
No, I don't think so. I also feel a lot of designers are talking so much about it but not doing enough. But the government is being very good and our PM Modi is being passionate about it.
What advice would you like to give the budding designers?
I haven't studied design. I followed my passion, and I'm in love with my work. Follow your passion and dedication, is the key to success. There is no shortcut to success, one has to work hard.