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Posted at: Jul 13, 2018, 12:03 AM; last updated: Jul 13, 2018, 12:03 AM (IST)

All the right cuts

Ace designer Manish Malhotra, in Chandigarh, promises to explore more of phulkari in the near future

Manpriya Singh

It’s hard to imagine that the man largely responsible for waving goodbye to the hideous Bollywood outfits of the eighties started his film journey with Swarg; a film in which he conceptualised costumes for a song starring Juhi Chawla. But then Rangeela happened and things started adding up, growing exponentially — on screen like his filmography Dil To Pagal Hai, Veer Zaara, to the upcoming Dhadak and Fanney Khan, and off screen to the tune of Rs 1 billion turnover that his label has already marked. 

While the struggles may have disappeared just like his bridal lehengas once they are off the ramp, the challenges remain.  “If you are an achiever, you have to put in a lot more effort to sustain that status. The expectations sky-rocket and so does the pressure,” shares the designer, who has just finished with his starry obligations with students of INIFD, for which he was briefly in Chandigarh to launch an online course.  

One for the brides 

Other than asking his brides to not ‘overdo things’, he doesn’t believe in taking over from them. “Wedding is such a personal affair. Some brides have elders in the family, so they want to go a little conservative while others have a chilled out crowd. Some brides want to be totally understated, others want larger than life. I can’t tell them what to do because I think certain things will look better. It’s her dream and I am there to help them achieve their dream.” 

For society’s sake

It has been more than nine years of him being associated with Shabana Azmi-led NGO Mijwan Welfare Society and putting up shows where the craft of chikankari forms the foundation. “It is about charity, but more than that it is about these women being busy and empowered… from a mere 40 women, we have now grown to 300 women.” 

Almost every Mizwan collection has been just as well-received and may be more so than many of the several other traditional crafts that he has reinvented; from the colourful phulkari to rich Benarasi. “The chikan collection was better received than even the phulkari because every woman has a phulkari in her collection, which was not the case with chikankari... you’ll see me explore phulkari again this year itself.” Till then. 

At his candid best 

  • What I like today is the fact that brides are in complete charge of their wedding. Whereas earlier it was the elders in the family deciding things for them. It’s no more chachiji or chachaji having a say… they accompany them, but the brides decide and I respect that. 
  • Over the years, I’ve learnt to say what I have to say and not bother about the repercussions. Even though your nature never changes, but I have grown patient over the years and learnt that things are going to happen when they are going to happen, even if you spend many sleepless nights over it.


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