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Diwali 2021: Indian fashion designer Manish Malhotra on how to glam up for the festive season

Dubai - From multi-shaded sequined saris to holographic slip-on sneakers and sandalwood and saffron sheet masks, celebrity Indian fashion designer, couturier and costume stylist, Manish Malhotra, has all the style solutions for this Diwali

By Sujata Assomull

Published: Thu 28 Oct 2021, 3:37 PM

This year, Manish Malhotra’s mantra for Diwali is very simple — just enjoy. “Diwali is one of my favourite times of the year. It’s when we get together with all our loved ones. We didn’t get to celebrate this last year due to the lockdown, so after a whole year and a half of being indoors, this year will be special when everyone is going to be dressed up,” says the designer. It is the season to dress up, and if that is what you feel like doing, that is what you do. And Manish makes no apologies for his love of sparkle.

As one of India’s most celebrated designers, Manish certainly has much to celebrate this year. Reliance Brands Limited just bought 40 per cent stake in his fashion brand. He launched his first virtual store, announced his film directorial debut (a musical love story set during Partition, the film will be produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.) A few weeks ago, he became the first Indian designer to drop his own NFT. His latest couture collection, Nooraniyat, that combined traditional crafts on zardozi and badla with sequins and crystals, received a warm welcome from critics as well as his loyal client base. A bridal assortment for season also included occasional wear. “The collection inspires a sense of reminiscence and reflects upon the transient nature of time,” says Manish. “Each garment proposes a new and individual visual expression and explores the possibility of a free monologue, which makes it so versatile.” It is about new-age bling.

As the pandemic reinforced the need for us to be more conscious about how we consume fashion, rewear and repeat is now a part of our dressing vocabulary. This new approach to shopping is something that creators are thinking about. “As a costume designer, I’ve always believed that you could easily style so many looks from your existing wardrobe by mixing and matching, but having said that, it’s an auspicious occasion and buying something new this season wouldn’t be such a bad idea just for that feel-good factor.” Plus, purchases made during this season are usually thoughtful buys, pieces that we can rewear for other important occasions, pieces that celebrate the textile traditions of India.

Malhotra says you can never go wrong with a saree (and one of his sequined sarees is a stylish example of modern Indian wear that will last you a lifetime). “They are so versatile and can enhance a look instantly and remain timeless years later.” The saree is also one of the most size-friendly garments you can wear. Malhotra

addressed the issue of inclusivity in his Nooraniyat collection, and while actress Kriti Sanon was his showstopper, he had plus-size fashion influencer Sakshi Sindwani making her debut as a bridal couture model for this collection. As a designer, he has always spoken about his own battle with weight. “Inclusivity is a very important and vital part of the fashion industry today and if you aren’t respecting every body type, gender, race or skin colour, then there is something very wrong with the thought process of the whole situation. We all are individuals and have our own personalities. It’s time we recognised that than pressure someone into being thin.” He also has some very sensible fashion advice for curvy women. “Whether you’re curvy or not, it’s your personality that carries the outfit, not the other way round.”

If it’s an investment buy you are looking for, then jewellery is always a good option for Diwali. The designer launched his eponymous jewellery line a few years ago partnering with heritage jeweller Raniwala 1881. “A traditional uncut diamond set or maybe just a pair of classic earrings is a must for festive dressing. Choker necklaces are also a good investment as they can go with a western or a traditional look.”

While he will always be known for dressing up A-listers such as Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Natasha Poonawalla and Isha Ambani Piramal, he is also a successful menswear designer. For Diwali, however, he is wearing his own ensemble. “I love wearing traditional clothes for Diwali, so it will definitely be a kurta set,” he says. “For men, I feel the day is when we celebrate our culture and roots, so I would recommend a traditional look like a kurta with slim pants or a sharp bandgala and feel free to experiment with vibrant colours this season.” He is looking forward to making the most of the festive season.

That is also where the Manish Malhotra Beauty line fits in. He launched his full skincare range at the end of last year with most of the ingredients sourced from the farms of Himachal Pradesh. A clean beauty line, rose, tulsi, sandalwood and saffron are all a part of the products. He says that sheet masks are a must for this season and reminds everyone that taking care of your skin must be a priority.

Manish himself follows a very strict regime. “I love my early mornings. I wake up as early as 4:30 am and that is a time I get to spend with my thoughts. Enjoying my cup of tea while watching the sunrise, hearing the birds chirp, I get to plan my day, exercise, create, think of new things to do. Most definitely, my favourite time of the day.” Of course, he does have his indulgences and one of them includes shopping. In fact, he stopped by in Dubai recently on his way back from a pop-up in Qatar, to shop. “Dubai is like second home for me. I have so many friends there, so I keep visiting often. I love the vibe of the city, its energy and people. Its diversity, its magnificent architecture, its larger-than-life aura, what is not to love?” He does hope to have his own retail presence in the city very soon. Till then his e-tail site delivers to this region. (And do look out for his holographic sneakers, perfect to wear under a sari if you intend to have many dancing nights this Diwali season.)

Manish Malhotra’s Diwali Fashion Hacks

‘Tis the season to dress up, and if that is what you feel like doing, that is what you do. These are Manish Malhotra’s five top style tips for the season:

1 Plan your outfits in time

2 Feel free to experiment with a new look

3 Be comfortable in what you wear

4 Try out new colours this season, something that you wouldn’t do otherwise

5 Enjoy! It’s been a while


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