Manish Arora gets candid on his love for Paris, bling, pets and more
India’s best-known designer in Paris gets into confession mode: Talks one by one about everything (and everyone) he loves!
It’s a nippy Wednesday noon and I am standing outside designer Manish Arora’s store in Delhi’s hip Dhan Mill Compound, gazing at his signature heart motifs on the store front. His white-and-gold ambassador is parked beside me, glistening in the winter sun. It’s gleaming inside as well: the seats are upholstered in quirky bright glittery motifs and there’s a giant heart on the driver’s seat.
Manish first visited Paris on the invitation of a friend after he made his first India Fashion Week collection, sharing a tiny apartment with three people, and sleeping on a mattress beneath the dining table.
Catherine became a great friend, and now makes all the jewellery for his collections. No wonder: it was she who tried to break him into the Paris fashion scene by getting him to meet Sarah Andelman, the owner of Colette, the most iconic shop in France.
Combine his Punjabi roots with a childhood spent in India’s Tinseltown, Mumbai, and it’s easy to decode Manish’s love for bling. He was so obsessed with Bollywood that he collected all the film magazines of the 1980s and still has hundreds of copies stored at his mother’s place in Mumbai.
As an only child, friends have always been important to Manish. When he moved to Delhi at 17 to study at NIFT, having his life revolve around his friends was a natural progression.
His style philosophy is simple: “I love myself so much that I want to come across like that to myself. I don’t dress for others,” he says. Clothes are his catnip and he will buy anything he likes irrespective of prices and brands.
You can’t miss the rings on Manish’s fingers (at least one of which is heart-shaped), and his statement glasses. Accessories turn him on, so since he can’t find enough quirky trimmings in the markets, he manufactures them himself.
So the good old Amby makes Manish’s engine run – the one parked outside his store now is his third. “I love my Ambassador,” declares Manish. “It’s a beautiful design, it’s comfortable and you feel very safe in it. You need something like a tank on Delhi roads and this is just that!”
The two are still friends, because Manish believes one can have one relationship, but can still love many. “Human beings are not supposed to be monogamous, right? And we are not,” he says. “We are just pretending to be, or we are suffering monogamy. There aren’t many people who are happy being monogamous.”