DRESSED in a dapper black bandhgala with quirky buttons shaped like eyes, couturier Manish Arora accepted France’s premier award, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, from the hands of the Ambassador of France Francois Richier on Tuesday night. At the ceremony, held at the French embassy in Chankyapuri in the Capital, Arora spoke about being thrilled that Indian fashion was getting due recognition internationally. “France has always been an inspiration. I now live between Paris and Delhi, and for me France is, literally, my own country,” said Arora, while receiving the award.
For someone who has been showing at Paris Fashion Week (PFW) since 2007, has served as creative director at French fashion house Paco Rabanne and is also a member of the Fédération française de la Couture du Prêt à Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode (French Federation of Fashion and of Ready-to-Wear Couturiers and Fashion Designers), this recognition holds great sentimental value. “I’m extremely happy and proud of being the first Indian in the field of fashion to receive this distinction,” says Arora.
The Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur recognises eminent accomplishments of service to France by French citizens, as well as foreigners. Past recipients include Pandit Ravi Shankar, Amitabh Bachchan, human rights activist Anjali Gopalan, and Shah
“The French have a very deep knowledge about India, and fashion has been in their system for more than a century; they can understand people coming from all over the world. They are always open to new ideas and originality and that’s what worked for me when I went to Paris,” he says.
Known for his colourful and kitschy sensibility, Arora has, in turn, been embraced by the French. “At my first show in Paris everyone was surprised with the blast of colours presented before them. I don’t think there is a more colourful designer than me in Paris. What worked was the sense of happiness and joy reflected in the colours I used,” says Arora, whose last outing at the Spring-Summer 2016 edition of PFW was a psychedelic window to his “disco gypsy land”.
But Arora says he isn’t one to rest on his laurels. “I still feel like a newcomer, like I’ve just begun my journey, even after receiving such a huge honour,” he says.
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