It’s impossible to talk about Bollywood screen style without talking about designer Manish Malhotra. After all, he’s responsible for most of the iconic outfits we all still dream of today. I spoke to the designer to learn more about how he paved his way into movies, designing, and of course some of his most talked about on-screen creations.
While the designer has always had an interest in movies, he realized what he wanted to do in life while working as a model while studying. “I had my first break in 1989 when Juhi Chawla was in the David Dhawan film Swarg where I created two costumes for Juhi for a song sequence. But the movie Rangeela was my turning point, “Manish told me.” That was 1995. The director Ram Gopal Verma was clear about his assignment, and the actress Urmila Matondkar was ready to prove himself [in Bollywood]. There was a strong creative energy and we created something completely new by adding crop tops, dungarees, t-shirts and jeans to the mix. It was an entirely new, fresh palette that caught the attention of all millennials and eventually went viral. I won my first Filmfare Award as a costume designer for the film. Interestingly, it was the first time the category had ever been added to the awards show, so I became the first recipient of it. “
“To me, [bringing celebrities onto the runway] was a very organic process because I came out of movies and had relationships with these actors – they were my friends. ”
From the groundbreaking outfits in Rangeela at the beginning of the sport on the big screen in Dil to pagal shark and Kuch Kuch Hota HaiManish is pretty much a chameleon when it comes to creating eye-catching costumes for the big screen. Trust me when I say that he was instrumental in bringing many trends to the fore. I remember vividly my sister and I went out and bought Tommy Hilfiger and Speedo athleisure looks right after we saw the movie. He’s also had a ton of success with his bridal couture looks shown during Fashion Week in India, where you’re likely to notice more than a few familiar A-lister faces on the runway. (My husband actually wore a design from his collection for our wedding!) “For me, [bringing celebrities onto the runway] was a very organic process because I came out of movies and had relationships with these actors – they were my friends. Calling her to my fashion show wasn’t a strategic move then or now, “revealed Manish.
Ahead of us, we relived some of his most iconic creations and his path to success, and discussed what his favorite look has been in his career so far. For the first time, the designer even revealed how he turned down a great opportunity to focus on his fashion label. (More on that later!) Keep scrolling to read more of our interview.