The Style Guide To Manish Malhotra

Photo of Sridevi Nambiar
6 October 2016

Manish Malhotra has been revolutionizing the fashion industry in India for more than two decades. Among famous Indian fashion designers, Malhotra’s extensive work in Bollywood has made him a particular favorite among fashion followers in the country. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about the trendsetting designer and his work.

How to identify a Manish Malhotra design

Traditions for modern day

The leading ladies of Bollywood that Malhotra has designed for flaunt the richest elements of Indian traditional fashion. They wear bright colors rich in patterns, aren’t afraid to mix clothing pieces that weren’t always meant to go together – kurtas with skirts, dupattas with risqué crop tops and pants. Kareena Kapoor’s outfit in the song Bole Chudiyan from the film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, where she wears parallel salwar pants teamed with a stylish kameez, revolutionized ethnic wear in the early 2000s. Not only was the outfit seen as a bold remodeling of a traditional attire, but it was also super-comfortable (in contrast with the popular notion that traditional clothing tends to be heavy and uncomfortable). In the 2014 movie 2 States, Malhotra dressed Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt in boldly-colored traditional attire, once again spiraling a return to traditional attire as everyday wear. Bhatt, playing your average girl next door, wears multi-colored saris and funky kurtas teamed with long skirts complete with traditional jewelry.

A new form of bridal fashion

Manish Malhotra is among the country’s finest when it comes to bridal wear design. And this is echoed in the Bollywood costumes he has designed as well. Malhotra’s work in movies such as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, Dil to Pagal Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho and 2 States revolutionized bridal wear in the country. However, what particularly stands out in his bridal wear collection is the emphasis on comfort. He discourages letting brides go overboard with make up and jewelry, and encourages them to be the highlight of their look rather than their outfits alone.

A bright array of colours

Malhotra’s work constantly revamps the role of color in Indian fashion. His work time and again teaches us to not conform when it comes to the use of color. From picking untraditional colors for bridal outfits, like the lime green outfit worn by Kajol in DDLJ, to pairing a neon orange skirt with a rich, Prussian blue kurta, Malhotra dares us to think creatively about using colors. Rangeela, one of Malhotra’s first films, was one of the most trendsetting of its time due to Urmila Matondkar’s boldly colorful clothes.

Manish Malhotra’s Biography: What You Need To Know

When was Manish Malhotra born? December 5th 1965.
Did Malhotra train to become a fashion designer? No. He has no formal training in fashion design. His first introduction to the fashion industry was when he tried modeling for a popular brand while studying arts at Elphinstone College.
How did Malhotra start his career? After having completed a few successful modeling assignments while in college, he started working at a boutique called Equinox in Bandra. He also started working on his own having hired tailors around this time, and by age 25 was given the chance to work on costume design in Bollywood.
Which is the first Bollywood film on which Malhotra worked as a costume designer? He entered the Bollywood fashion design scene in 1990 when he designed costumes for Bollywood actor Juhi Chawla for the Hindi film Swarg.

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