In a collection which seemed to buck all the major trends Manish Arora transported his audience to a world drenched in holographic tones, pastel hues, baroque accents and tastefully embellished with crystals. Unlike so many of the other collections I became aware of during fashion month Manish Arora drew my attention via Tumblr rather than Instagram, highlighting the artificial barrier between his aesthetic and ‘the rest’. Fashion bloggers seemed to pay little attention to what seemed like a labor intensive collection and there was a distinct lack of backstage photographs taken in between the mayhem of the runway presentation. Nevertheless, this seasoned designer active since 2010 has created a niche for himself and built a reputation for collections more like a selection of candies accompanied by thoughtfully designed headpieces.
Although holographic materials are a motif Arora has previously explored, following the popularity of this mirrored material in 2013 it seemed irresistible to turn his hand towards the trend again. Most notably shiny pairs of cutaway buckle boots on every model marched faithfully down the runway coordinating with the metallic shades of sea green, pink, peach and baby blue. What I’m most interested in are those ornate hats whether they be simple caps with shiny visors and ornamentation or the more decorative bathing caps signifying the finale (which was then following by a series of ready-to-wear, street style adapted pieces emblazoned with water colour motifs of eyes). Other accessories of the collection were bum bags and totes but neither seemed to add value to any of the looks and at times models were charged with the task of posing with both (a last minute decision?)
As you could probably guess from my personal style I'm more concerned with the 'more is more' approach when it comes to fashion. Yes, sometimes I do dress boring when I have to go to class or buy milk and bread but nothing gives my greater joy than to ceremoniously dress up and experiment with my image. Nothing makes me sadder when people on the street look as though they were created from the same cookie cutter mold or there is a sameness to their outfits. This includes a formulaic approach to style bloggers- when they wear the same kind of dress or silhouette and colour palette day in and day out. There's nothing exciting or revolutionary about it! Wouldn't you be bored if you were only one thing or only dressed one way? I find it bizarre how some people can do it, and more so how they can be praised for having a signature look that remains unchanged for years. Fashion should instill some sort of risk-taking in order to breed creativity and new ideas which I think Manish Arora has cleverly delivered amongst a sea of competing motifs, materials and colours.
What really allowed the collection to shine were the various patterns and forms of embellishment on every garment ranging from tops to trousers. Without managing to swamp the garments Arora managed to emphasise everything from the neckline, shoulders, waist and hem. There was enough variation to keep the audiences attention and the transition between sea green, pink and peach combined with all those lovely rhinestones was a feast for the eyes. In terms of silhouettes everything remained relatively conservative with the most dramatic pieces being the wide-legged trousers in pastel colours delivering a dreamy statement. Where other designers such as Rei Kawakubo are unafraid to experiment with texture and create sculptural coats, Manish Arora has done little to disturb the status quo. Although statement sweaters seem to be the staple to every fashion bloggers wardrobe it's difficult to compete with the likes of Alexander Wang's celebrity powered campaign.
I think what’s most interesting about this collection is the evocation of representation of realms outside the world of fashion and in particular the dreamy silk dresses saturated in spiritual motifs. The most obvious example of this is the depiction of Hindu deities but may also extend to the omniscient eyes seamlessly worked into the design of crop tops and dresses. Through clothing the Indian fashion designer is able to combine psychedelic colours, appliqué and Western silhouettes in what can only be described as a feast for the eyes. He could go own better by creating a rich narrative and story for the audience to follow but doing so would be an exhaustive process both creatively as well as physically. Still, I remain hopeful that we might see something similar in the future.
The whole array of peach, pink and blue reminds me a lot of sunsets from shows like Sailor Moon and movies made by Studio Ghibli. Again, this ties in with the dreaminess of the aesthetic as well as the detail on the silky dresses and sheer bomber jackets which look incredible layered upon one another but would be just as effective with white. Usually when I think of gold clothing the first thing I picture are gauche leggings and the second thing I think of is a windbreaker jacket with chains copying Versace. It's not a terribly portrayal but I suppose it's not something I've given much thought towards. Of course with the omnipresence of gold in Indian culture and rich jewels this motif has creeped into the Spring collection instead depicted as golden sand beaches. It's nice to see its use in something other than a European-centric baroque framework or decoration and I sincerely hope that Arora experiments with a new motif or idea for Fall.