Saturday, November 10, 2007

People need gust to copy me: Manish

People need guts to copy me: Manish

India offers a lot of inspiration that works to my advantage,” says Manish Arora

How did I become a designer?
Well, it was a big mistake, actually! I was doing commerce in Mumbai, and had applied to NIFT, which had just opened then. I was accepted and that was that! In fact, in those early days at NIFT, I used to say we were the chosen ones — in an unlucky way — because we led a dog’s life with all the work we had to do. But looking back, I feel it was worth it. A lot of what I am doing today has been because of the school I was in. It was a great place to hang out.

I use my country to my advantage in my design...
Luckily, India offers a lot of inspiration that works to my advantage. But I use it so it’s understood by the international market, not in a totally ethnic way. It’s all very colourful and happy.

The reason I’ve gone for corporate tie-ups... I believe that’s the way to do it. I can’t open a shop in Jalandar or Ludhiana, but with my corporate tie-ups, I can reach the masses everywhere. My tie-ups with companies producing shoes, watches can take me there. They have the budget for the mega-advertising that’s needed. And that’s how the world does it. I’ve never made an effort to create a brand of myself. It has happened. In fact, my designs are so strong, they are the sort to overpower any brand.

I was showing at the London Fashion Week the last four seasons....
Now I’ve moved to Paris. I sell in more than 80 of the top stores in the world, including Galleries Lafayette, Harrods, Saks. But I make just one collection — it’s the same everywhere, just tweaked to suit the market in different countries. My skirts might be longer in the Middle East, there might be more embroidery in Italy. Otherwise, it’s all the same everywhere — no distinctions.

Yes, designers do get copied...
But I’d be so glad if someone copied me! They would need guts to do so anyway — my designs are so distinctive, so why would they chance it? If they did, I’d just take it as a huge compliment.

My priority...
I want as many people to acknowledge me and appreciate my work as possible. Designers I admire right now would include Jean-Paul Gaultier for sticking to his guns, and Vivienne Westwood. She’s 70 or 80 and still going mad with her design. I like people who think out of the box. Vivienne takes the English silhouette and gives it this most unusual twist.
I was invited by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum for a very prestigious show in September. They show just one designer every year, and have done designers like Christian Lacroix and Vivienne Westwood in the recent past. This year it’s me. It fitted in beautifully as I’d showed in London the last two years.

Everyone says India has ‘arrived’ internationally...
But what do they mean by that? A country doesn’t ‘arrive’, its people do. So one or two designers from India might become well-known brands internationally. But I always insist this is only the beginning — it will take 8-10 years more. Yes, Indian designers will face competition from international brands coming in from abroad, but don’t forget that those brands are already 60-70 years old or more in the market. We are still so young.

Using film stars for my fashion shows... I don’t think I need it. I wouldn’t like to get publicity through someone else — especially if that someone is from Bollywood! Bollywood doesn’t have fashion, they have costumes. But yes, there are actresses I like, many of them come and buy my clothes. I like Preity Zinta, Sonam, Deepika, Sushmita — they are good girls. I suppose things work differently for different designers.

My mantra...
To me it’s all about developing your own style and getting it out there each season. And no, I don’t have a fixed technique for creating design. Every fashion show I do I review 50 times over afterwards on video, check out what my weak points were. I used to do a lot of Indian pop art earlier, but now my style is more futuristic and geometric. I believe strongly in research and development and am always travelling — to Benaras, Orissa, Kashmir — to source fabrics.


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