Manish Malhotra was invited to dinner at the Cavalli Club in Dubai early last week by two friends. He walked straight into Cavalli’s second annual Halloween party at his buzzing nightspot. Two years ago, the Italian designer had turned up for a Halloween bash as Karl Lagerfeld. This year he came as himself and the media went wild..
"TV channels were clamouring for one-minute spots and spotbulbs went off in your face. In the melee, someone recognised me and shouted out my name. Immediately, the lensemen turned their attention to me and started shooting my pictures," recalls Manish.
That got him some attention from Cavalli’s publicity team too and when told that he was an Indian designer with his own label and store in Dubai, the great man himself grabbed Manish and posed with him saying, "He’s the Bollywood guy! I’m going to make an outfit for him!"
Pragmatic Manish insists that there’s little chance of him getting an exclusive Cavalli label. "He must have forgotten about his promise already," he shrugs.
Prod him on possible international collaborations and Manish says, "I’m finding it hard enough coping with the demands from the Indian market to look for foreign buyers. But yes, I’d love to go global with contemporary desi wear," he nods. "It exasperates me to see our Bollywood beauties turn up for red carpet galas in gowns. Why can’t they wear a sari instead? It is so much more glamorous and sexy."
Vegas hotelier Steve Wynn who ran into Manish at a Fashion Week recently, was so impressed with his designs that he ordered three outfits for himself and his wife.
Over the last two-and a-a-half months, Manish has unveiled six new collections at half-a-dozen Fashion Weeks in Delhi, Mumbai and Dubai. At the finale of the HDIL Couture Week, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as his showstopper. The actor looked pictureperfect in a kalidaar with a ghagra that Malhotra insists is ‘in’ with brides this season. “Go for jewel colours like ruby red and emerald green and minimum accessories,” he advises.
Manish also designed Aishwarya’s Robot look and her anarkali kurtas are a rage in countries like Malaysia. Even her retro look in Action Replayy has become a trendsetter, along with Kareena Kapoor’s tees-and dhoti-salwar look in Golmaal 3. He’s now gearing up to shop for Kareena again, this time for Karan Johar’s Short Term Shaadi that will be shot in Las Vegas this winter.
Dismissing reports about a chaddi look for a size-minus Kareena, Manish reasons, “Why would we want to give her shorts in winter? Those days when heroines shivered in the snow are long gone. We’ll go in for tees with waistcoasts, teamed with shirts and tights… Unmatched clothes, interestingly put together that reflect Boho street life.”
Manish has also worked on Kareena’s look for Ra.One that’s more working-woman in London with coats and scarves. “With Kareena I’ve been experimenting a lot, from the trackpants and nose ring in 3 Idiots to the checks in Stepmom. We’ll start work on Bodyguard soon and that will be another creative challenge. But I’m clientless right now,” he smiles.
Another interesting film in his kitty is Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, toplining Ranbir Kapoor. Manish has designed the look for Ranbir’s half-Czech-half-Pakistani reel life love, Nargis Fakhri. Says Manish, “There’s a lot of Kashmiri influence in the clothes she wears but more about that later.”