There’s a famous Proust quote which translates (from French) into: “It is only women who do not know how to dress that are afraid of colours.” And Manish Arora’s Autumn/Winter 2012 collection, incredibly, felt like an exuberant rendition of it. Come, check it out!
I’m all for championing Subcontinental talents in the world stage, but, *only* when it’s merited ‒ and not for the sake of it. So it gladdens me immensely that there are Indian designers nowadays, like Naeem Khan, Bibhu Mohapatra, Shane & Falguni Peacock, Prabal Gurung (I know he’s Nepalese, but he learnt a part of his craft at NIFT Delhi and interned with none other than Manish Arora himself; so, loosely speaking he is…), who are enjoying great accolades in the international arena. Impressive as their collections are, none of them have the touch of genius, the touch of fantasy as Manish Arora’s creations have. His imagination and workmanship are as good as any, but what held him back from becoming a household name by now, has been the avant garde nature of his designs. That is, exquisite stuff but with little or no commercial value (I’m an economist after all, you can’t blame me for thinking like that… :-p). Better late than never, it looks like he managed to get that mix right for A/W’12, as the collection is full of pieces that deserve to be celebrated and treasured.
He turned to Brooklyn, that hipster borough of New York, for inspiration, and ‒ unbelievably! ‒ translated its decaying cityscape into a sparkling ready-to-wear collection. It was apt then that the collection was showcased at an industrial open space on the banks of Seine, to the pungent fumes of spray paint (what is a Manish Arora show without the stroke of the impractical!), as black-hooded Parisian graffiti artists ‒ Rude, Vizion and Broke ‒ defaced the backdrop with “life is beautiful”.
To render the world-weary architecture of the borough, he used devoré to create a brickwork pattern on black velvet dresses, which he dressed up more with sequins and green tufts of fabric to resemble a mossy overgrowth.
Giving the urban edge to the collection were fragmented faces from the works of Brooklyn street artist Judith Supine, which were superimposed on three-piece skirt suit, jacket, cocoon coat, sheath dress, flouncy bustier cocktail dress and tops, and then decorated with cherry blossom appliqués.
More surreal features were present, on skirts, tops and coats, in the form of bright red lips smoking embroidered 3-D cigarettes embroidered. Fabulously wacky, no?
There were floaty dresses and flapper-girl tops in iridescent leather, nipped-in waist dresses, boleros and flouncy miniskirts with leather-fringe motifs ‒ and FUR, which was bordering on overkill (my only gripe with this otherwise fab outing).
The finale consisted of ten floaty dresses with dayglo graffiti prints, whose fluoro colours picked up on the freshly-sprayed on graffiti… Amaze!
Wonderfully imaginative, brilliantly executed and viable commercially aplenty, I really hope this collection takes the Manish Arora name to greater heights.
P.S.: His A/W’12 collection for Paco Rabanne was equally, if not more, sumptuous. Watch this space to know all about it… :-) Gotta say this has been Manish’s coming of age season!
P.P.S.: My favourite from the A/W’12 round of shows (and beyond) still remains Raf Simons’s swansong for Jil Sander, though…