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Refashioning Manish Malhotra.

Written by Namrata Zakaria |
October 10, 2012 2:11:01 am

Refashioning Manish Malhotra.

It is a well-known tradition among us fashion folk to disregard anything that Bollywood throws at us. I say ‘throw’ because the Hindi film industry is said to be a largely raucous place where subtlety is an alien idea. For too long,Indian films have celebrated the loud and the garish,whether in its plot lines,in its treatment and execution,or in its costumes and the large egos of film stars.

Poor Manish Malhotra,friend to the stars,a celebrated costumer and a commendable fashion designer to boot,has borne the brunt of our collective fashion ire.

The ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ paradigm seems to have quickly blurred. For starters,films offer a far more eclectic buffet fare. The heroines are young and trendy,they wear high street and high end in their personal lives too. Besides,the introduction of five or six top European fashion houses and a gazillion fashion magazines have brought much sophisticated glamour to Bollywood.

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Or shall we say,fashion has been Bollywoodised? Look at Vogue India’s fifth anniversary cover this month; it’s a five-cover option with the hippest and most delicious looking actresses au courant (Sonam Kapoor,Deepika Padukone,Anushka Sharma,Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra).

There have been many blue-blooded fashion folk who have found success in films — among them is Sabyasachi,fashion’s golden child,who brought his sensibilities to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films and changed the wardrobes of Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan,turning them from ‘oof’ to ‘oomph’.

It has been Malhotra,best friend to Karan Johar and Kareena Kapoor,who has had to struggle to straddle both worlds effortlessly. I see him daily at the ongoing Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week,feeling quite at home among the fashionies,taking in the vibe of the trade,meeting old friends,making new and conducting his meetings with great savoir faire. He is at home,and happy to be among the fashion crowd. “It is a break from Mumbai,and a break from Bollywood,” he humbly tells me.

But I can see his movie-star good looks swell with pride when he puts out a truly respectable fashion show that is treated to a genuine applause. Malhotra’s show for Mijwan,a charity promoted by the late Kaifi Azmi and now by his actor daughter Shabana,was homage to the chikankari of the Azamgarh region. It was an incredibly styling mélange of the starkness of raw silk with the elaborate dance of chikankari squiggles.

Since this Mughal embroidery has been a classic and is a favourite among the chic crowd,there is a sense of déjà vu. But all is forgiven when you note that Malhotra has for now disconnected with his propensity for nets and zardozi and adopted a quieter and more sophisticated aesthetic.

Moreover,his styling for Kapoor in Heroine gets full marks. Never before has the very beautiful actress looked this good. Her jersey frocks and playsuits,her loungey yoga pants and cocktail frocks are the saving grace of the terrible film.

After two decades in this business,Manish Malhotra can still pull out a surprise or two. And that makes him a superstar in his own right.

namratanow@gmail.com

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