When someone takes Manish Malhotra’s name – the first thing that comes to mind is larger-than-life glamour, beautifully designed clothes, outstanding designs, and couture – be it on the big screen or on the runway. He is a designer as famous as the stars he dresses. Manish Malhotra has completed 33 years of costume designing for the Hindi film industry, with over 1,000 films to his credit – Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Dhadkan (2000), Jab We Met (2007), Om Shanti Om (2007), Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani (2013) and more. That’s not all, he also launched his make-up segment. In an exclusive interview with financialexpress.com’s Eshita Bhargava, ace fashion designer Manish Malhotra talks about the first costume that he designed for Juhi Chawla, his make-up label Manish Malhotra Luxury Makeup by MyGlamm, his journey so far, how fashion has changed over the years, and more.
How and when did you decide to become a designer? How would you describe your journey in the industry so far?
The world of films always fascinated me. My journey in the industry started as a costume designer. In 1990, Swarg was the first movie I designed costumes for. There’s been no looking back since. I started my eponymous label in 2005. Since then, we have 3 flagship stores in Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad today and expanded into verticals like jewelry and beauty as well and on the way to opening the doors to our first international flagship store in Dubai this summer. The ride has been on and continues to be exhilarating and I am truly grateful to be able to do what I love.
You beautifully showcase traditional Indian craft through your clothes, where do you draw inspiration from? While representing Indian fashion to a global audience, how do you ensure you portray the right image?
I find inspiration in everything. From my travels to the simplicity of everyday life, I find inspiration in the sublime as well as the ordinary. I like the amalgamation of tradition and innovation. We are a country of great craftsmanship and skill, and the world must see our heritage in the most authentic ways possible. So, whenever I get the chance to represent on a global platform, I make sure my designs are evocative of the essence of our rich Indian crafts infused with modernity which is my signature.
How do you think Indian fashion has changed on the global ramp in the last 10 years? What’s your favourite era when we talk about fashion? Why?
Indian fashion has evolved immensely in the last 10 years. We have seen a lot more representation of India on the global ramp. It’s beautiful because this has led to a shift in perspective; people across the world now actively seek Indian labels for occasions big and small.
When it comes to my favourite era, I think the 50s & 60s in the Hindi Film Industry were truly beautiful. I was a huge movie buff as a child and when I saw these movies, the fashion showcased would leave me in absolute awe.
You have your beauty brand as well, Manish Malhotra Luxury Makeup by MyGlamm, how involved are you with that? Do you sit for ideation and all of that?
As a creative individual, I love to add newer dimensions to my work. Venturing into the beauty space felt like a natural fit because fashion and beauty complement each other really well. Make-up is an important aspect of any look. I thoroughly enjoy working on my beauty line with MyGlamm. I am fully invested in every product we make, from the ideation execution and everything in between. At Manish Malhotra Luxury Makeup by MyGlamm, the idea is to make beauty more aspirational and accessible at the same time.
How are you enjoying the journey from a couturier to a beauty entrepreneur?
At the heart of it all, I am still a couturier but I like to broaden my horizons. I’ve grown up around the world of fashion and beauty, so I think it’s my turf. But whether its couture, beauty, or jewellery, I enjoy it all thoroughly.
What was your idea behind Manish Malhotra Luxury Makeup by Glamm? What’s your focus?
The idea is to make luxury beauty more accessible. Our focus as a brand is to cater to Indian skin tones and provide an indulgent experience of makeup and skincare combined in one.
Tell us something about your recent Face Range collection. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
The Face Range collection is a high-fashion base range that includes a decadent primer, concealer, foundation, and compact powder, making it perfect to achieve that flawless goddess-like matte finish. All the products are dermatologically tested, sweat-free, water-resistant, and long-lasting, keeping in mind Indian skin tones and weather.
Who was the first actor you dressed? Who according to you is the style icon in the Hindi film industry?
My first project, where I worked as a costume designer, was for the movie Swarg, where I designed a costume for Juhi Chawla for a song. For Rangeela (1995), Ram Gopal Varma had a clear brief and Urmila Matondkar gave us a free hand.
Rekhaji, according to me, is a style icon for many and for me as well. She is the epitome of grace and effortlessness.
What do you think are the reasons behind your success?
Success is always a work in progress. I personally just try to stay true to my work and believe in hard work and perseverance. I have endured as well as evolved with my aesthetic, design, vision and philosophy. For Gumraah (1993), I did the late Sridevi’s entire wardrobe and gave her short hair. With several years, in the industry, I have found that a balance between constructive criticism and belief in oneself is very important.
Manish, what do you splurge on the most? What are your favourite travel destinations? Every destination has its own charm. I love how futuristic Dubai is and how London retains its old-world charm.