Manish Malhotra's prolific career spanning over thirty years has seen him redefine Indian fashion as a couturier, costume stylist, entrepreneur and revivalist. The Mumbai-based fashion designer began his career as a model, but his passion for movies and fashion soon led him to costume design.. and there was no looking back.
Mumbai-based fashion and costume designer Manish Malhotra developed a passion for fashion design at the age of fourteen during his brother's wedding preparations where he took interest in the design of his mother's clothes and jewellery. At nineteen, while studying Arts at Elphinstone College Mumbai, he did a few modeling gigs and then joined a boutique in Bandra called Equinox, where he spent his time sketching and draped mannequins for a year.
Per Teen Vogue: "Though he was still young, he decided to skip any formal training and instead developed his talents for sketching and sewing solely through hands-on experience in small boutiques in India's region of Mumbai — and to say it worked out would be an understatement."
In 1987 he hired two tailors and started taking bespoke couture orders from his house. Within two years he styled late actress Divya Bharti in a film and debuted in the film Industry as a costume stylist in 1990. Malhotra made headlines as a costume designer when a film he designed costumes for - Rangeela- won him the prestigious Filmfare Award for Best Costume Design. He was also credited for his modern minimal yet impactful costume styling. For the costumes of Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998 he won seven individual category awards for the casual to bridal looks. In 2001, Malhotra won his first IIFA Award for Best Costume Design for his work in Aditya Chopra's film, Mohabbatein.
Per Teen Vogue: "What resulted in the following decades were costumes that ultimately proved to be generation-defining. Films that featured Malhotra's styling began to create recognizable trends for South Asian women of all ages across the globe, with Bollywood's leading ladies becoming characters that existed off-screen entirely through their clothing — exactly what Malhotra had always hoped to achieve."
His body of work of over a thousand films and designing diverse looks for leading actors including Rekha, Sridevi, Raveena Tandon, Kajol, Sushmita Sen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt and many others. Per BoF: "Malhotra built his reputation through his film work and his ability to create compelling, personal looks for characters, winning the designer numerous accolades in the process. The designer describes his approach as “an entire integrated look for a character throughout a film."
Costume designing paved the path to fashion design. In 1999 Manish Malhotra collaborated with industrialists Kajal Anand, Avanti and Yash Birla to design collections for their store: Reverie. He also tied up with Sheetal Design Studio and set up a workshop there for four years. 2005 witnessed the launch of his couture label Manish Malhotra which offers bridal, couture, diffusion, men's wear, and bespoke collections. The following year, Manish Malhotra collaborated with Saif Belhasa Group of Companies to open his flagship in Dubai. Sadly the store closed doors in 2017.
Manish Malhotra is widely acclaimed for his use of heritage textile craft. Most notable is his usage of chikankari. The couturier debuted his chikankari couture collection titled "Mijwan" in 2010 after working with local artisans in Uttar Pradesh to revive the craft while also trying to make it appealing with a modern aesthetic.
Following a flagship in Mumbai, Manish Malhotra opened a large stand-alone store sprawled over 6,000 sq.ft, in Mehrauli, Delhi. The space reflects Malhotra's trademark opulent style with arched windows, high ceilings and vintage chandeliers. He then partnered with Etihad Airways to create a virtual reality fashion show at Lakme Fashion Week in August 2016. The following year he launched a store in Hyderabad which spreads over 15,000 sq. ft.
Over the years, the label's aesthetic aims to wed traditional Indian craftsmanship with contemporary silhouettes like gowns with intricate gold embroidery, cigarette pants paired with long jackets, voluminous lehengas worn with cropped blouses or the use of non-traditional colors in bridal ensembles. The label's design language exhibits glamour and is a reflection of modern India.
Eager to explore new horizons in design Manish Malhotra debuted his pret line: Diffuse. "Diffuse came with a lot of planning, research, and, most importantly, a shift in the entire team's mindset working on it. The clothes are more accessible, considering we consciously priced them for the younger generation to avail," he tells Vogue. "The youth always intrigued, inspired and stimulated me through the vibrancy and the ever-changing mysteries of life. Their outlook on life is so fascinating. I wanted to create a separate line resonating with their eclectic nature."
He launched his first-ever make-up line Manish Malhotra Beauty in collaboration with My Glamm in December 2018. The following year, the couturier ventured into a new space, 'Manish Malhotra Jewellery' in partnership with heritage jewellery brand Raniwala 1881. “I embarked on the path of jewellery inspired by the historical richness and intrinsic appeal of Polkis, which served as a beautiful testament to our storied heritage. Now, we venture into the realm of natural diamonds which craft modern heirlooms…” he told Times Of India.
In 2021, he launched a collection of NFTs which had the sketches and GIFs of five couture pieces worn by famous artists like Lisa Ray, Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt made its debut. The auctioning was done in WRX—the native token of WazirX on the Binance blockchain. The dropped collection reportedly sold out in seconds.
Reliance Brands Limited - part of the retail arm of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries - acquired a 40 percent stake in brand ‘Manish Malhotra’ to accelerate the couture house's growth in India and across the globe. On Friday, October 15, Reliance Brands and Manish Malhotra announced a strategic partnership as part of the deal. This is the first external investment for Manish Malhotra's brand, which has been privately held by the designer so far. The brand will continue to be led by Manish Malhotra, as Managing and Creative Director, after the partnership with Reliance.
Manish Malhotra is currently making films. He told Filmfare: "I love what I do; ventures and collaborations are a part of the journey. I view fashion as an integrated look that encompasses design, styling, and makeup. My love for cinema enabled me to create some iconic looks on-screen while mounting a whole brand simultaneously. Now I’m fulfilling my childhood dream of sitting on a director’s chair, bringing the magic of fashion, films and fun to life."
Handloom and regional hand embroideries often appear in Manish Malhotra's couture collections leading to a more significant heritage revival in Indian fashion. When actor Shabana Azmi started Mijwan Welfare Foundation in a small village in Uttar Pradesh to empower rural women to uplift their life and livelihood, he got involved with its first fashion show. Today the cluster of women is growing has a regular source of work and income. And it, of course, is reviving the craft.
Fashion designer Manish Malhotra envisioned being the best in whatever he did and from a young age knew that he wanted to leave a legacy behind. Today his prolific career spanning over thirty years has redefined Indian fashion as a couturier, costume stylist, entrepreneur, jewellery designer and revivalist.
Manish Malhotra (Founder)
Recognition and Awards
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Manish Malhotra retails couture- bridal wear- ready to wear- and jewellery.
- Official website Manish Malhotra
- Manish Malhotra Business of Fashion
- Manish Malhotra—from couture lehengas to bomber jackets Vogue
- Wikipedia page of Manish Malhotra Wikipedia
- Manish Malhotra debuts his high jewellery line Times Of India
- Manish Malhotra designs Air India's stylish new pilot and crew uniforms Economic Times
- My designs are evocative of essence of Indian crafts infused with modernity Financial Express
- How Manish Malhotra Redefined Bollywood's Styling Teen Vogue
- The DNA Of Indian Fashion: Manish Malhotra Elle
- Inside Manish Malhotra's 40,000 sq.ft atelier The Week
- From Earning Rs 500 A Month To Making Millions menXP
- Manish Malhotra tells us what it takes to be a fashion designer India Today
- Youtube profile of Manish Malhotra Youtube
- Manish Malhotra joins the list of designers making limited-edition ware for brands AFaqs
- I am a workaholic The Statesman
- Story of a Designer : Manish Malhotra Cindrebay
- Manish Malhotra recalls his inspiring journey India Today
- The power and glory of Manish Malhotra FilmFare
- Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Manish Malhotra iDiva
Manish Malhotra (Founder)
Fashion and Textiles