When you ask Manish Malhotra the three things that he is most passionate about, his prompt response is, “My work, my work and my work. In fact, there has not been much beyond work.”
The fashion designer is highly admired for his glamorous lehengas, sarees and sherwanis that ooze the finesse of Indian crafts heritage. In a career spanning 30 years, Malhotra has dressed the crème de la crème of the entertainment industry, from Kareena Kapoor Khan and Ranbir Kapoor to Nick Jonas and supermodel Naomi Campbell.
He has now embarked on a new journey, creating luxe jewellery, beauty and home décor collections as well.
Recently, Malhotra became the first Indian designer to launch a full-fledged range of artisanal skincare products, in an exclusive partnership with MyGlamm. Last week, he also unveiled the Manish Malhotra virtual store, a first-of-its-kind luxury retail experience that allows customers a seamless online tour of his 15,000 sq. ft. Delhi flagship atelier.
“The decision to launch the virtual store was long overdue, but intensified due to the pandemic. With this new virtual facility, we hope to bridge the serendipitous joy of shopping at our exclusive physical outlets. It’s a result of over 11 months of research, planning, strategy, and design, and I’m looking forward to the response of our fans and loyalists,” Malhotra said in a press statement.
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Malhotra gets candid with LuxeBook and takes us behind the scenes of his star-studded, luxurious life and reflects on the lessons learnt during the lockdown.
“I felt very lonely because of no support or critique, but my idea of having a celebrity showstopper has become a norm today. I was criticized for it, but today, I get to have the last laugh when everyone runs behind a celebrity with their outfits.”
Which are your three greatest achievements of 2020?
During the lockdown, I got to spend quality time with my mother and spend a lot of time over introspecting, strategising and innovating. I also paid attention to my physical health and lost 18 kgs.
What lessons did you learn during the lockdown?
I learnt that less is more.
Please take us through what a leisure day in your life looks like?
Unfortunately, I don’t have many of those. But yes, my leisure day is usually spent meeting friends, eating and having tea together and watching movies.
You design for and dress many celebrities, how would you describe your personal style?
It’s slightly more classic than how I dress celebrities, honestly. I like to keep things minimal when it comes to my personal style. In fact, my mom wants me to wear brighter colours, but I tend to get inclined to blacks and blues and greys and whites.
From being a costume designer to launching a label to becoming an entrepreneur across cosmetics, jewellery, home décor sectors, what inspires you to keep innovating?
For me, it’s about honesty, sincerity and the willingness to give that 24 hours of commitment. At the brink of starting my label (in 2005), I was offered to direct a film, but I must say that I sacrificed that for my label. When you start something, you’re also experimenting, but, eventually, you’ve to find your genre and your true calling. For me, that was the bridal couture. Also, it’s about consistent learning and evolving. Keeping abreast with times and keeping pace with it.
I never dwell into someone else’s business. My greatest virtue would be me minding my own business. I’ve always been focussed on my journey and my career, which has helped me cut through the confusion and stay relevant over these years.
At times, I felt very lonely because of no support or critique, but my idea of having a celebrity showstopper has become a norm today. I was criticized for it, but today, I get to have the last laugh when everyone, literally everyone, runs behind a celebrity with their outfits.
For me, it was in fact, a very organic process, because I came from movies. I had a relationship with these actors and they were my friends. So, calling them at my fashion show wasn’t any strategic move back then and nor is it now.
So, finally its heart plus hard work and then the economics follows.
Do you remember your time as a costume designer on a film set?
There are innumerable memories and it will be difficult to share one of many. But, the one I still remember is my time on the sets of Rangeela (1995), when we shot in the rain. I held the umbrella for Urmila Matondkar. It was right at the beginning of my career and I learnt the value of time-bound work then.
Being one of the leading personalities in the space of luxury, what’s your definition of luxury?
Luxury is about being unique and carrying your own style. On a functional level, it is also much about comfort and quality. For me, luxury stands for something that speaks to you and perfects your outlook.
Every garment that we make, requires the utmost attention to detail, painstaking efforts and number of man hours. This labour of love that is put together to realise a couture garment is a reflection of pure luxury.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Eating is my guilty pleasure. Anyone would know what it is like to be in a true blue Punjabi family. We, as a family, love to eat!
What do you prefer – Netflix and chill or a house party?
For me, a house party, any day.
What is your most prized possession and why?
That’s a difficult one. Maybe, it is my first Filmfare award for Rangeela. I’m the first recipient of Filmfare Awards for Costume Designing (1996).
What is the most expensive/luxurious thing you own?
All the items I’ve bought, whether expensive or not so expensive, are very dear to me. Be it my silver candelabra or the frame that has New York landscape of the 60s.
Which travel destination is next on your bucket list?
I would love to go to Alaska.
Which book are you reading currently?
I’m reading a lot of business articles right now, not a book. Although, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point some time ago.
Please tell us a little about your new luxury skincare launch with MyGlamm.
During the pandemic, we came closer to mother nature more than ever before. Not only did we connect with our roots but believed in our Indian heritage and skin rituals that have been tried and tested for ages.
We thought to celebrate this shift in attitude through our product. From locally sourced ingredients, and to supporting local artisans, this skincare range stands true in all capacity to the ethos of Manish Malhotra.
Manish Malhotra Skincare is based on the concept of farm-to-face. We’ve explored local farms of Himachal Pradesh to pursue ethically sourced, locally grown, natural ingredients that deliver unparalleled freshness and potency. All these ingredients can be traced back to traditional Indian households.
What are you working on next?
I keep working on several things at once. We’ve just launched our virtual store, and that again is something I’m truly proud of, as we are well ahead of the curve and it’s, in fact, one of the first-ever designer virtual stores to be launched by a design house in India. We are working on this for the second stage implementation.
We have also just launched an Instagram page called @manishmalhotravows that chronicles the journey of Manish Malhotra brides and grooms.
We are working on our Home collection as well. So, there are many things in the pipeline for us this new year.