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‘India reach in culture’

New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) He has dressed some of Bollywood’s most known names in creations, with visible use of Indian textures, prints and designs. Fashion designer Manish Malhotra truly believes India is rich in its culture and heritage and that creative people should "embrace" that.

"India has a very rich heritage and culture. We as Indian designers should embrace this gift," Malhotra told IANS on the sidelines of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) here.

"I have been promoting Indian handicrafts through my collections. It is my small way of embracing the rich heritage and culture. The idea is to make these crafts more popular and influence people to wear these handcrafted pieces," he added.

The designer worked closely with local artisans for his Kashmir inspired line ‘Gulaala and Giltoor’, and even for his chikankari work from Mijwan, a small village in Uttar Pradesh.

His latest autumn-winter collection, which he showcased at the Delhi runway Friday, was titled ‘Threads of Emotions’, which was high on phulkari embroidery from Punjab.

"We have always promoted Indian handicrafts from different parts of India. This time we celebrated the magic and heritage of phulkari and bagh embroidery from Punjab," he said.

"A lot of georgette, chiffon and net have been used with different textures mixed with a splash of autumn colors like rich mustard yellow, olive greens, navy blue, deep rust, intense reds and pinks," said the designer.

Malhotra’s last collection was an ode to Mijwan Welfare Society, an NGO initiated in 1999 by Shabana Azmi’s father, the late noted film lyricist Kaifi Azmi. The organisation works for the empowerment of the locals.

As a designer, Malhotra feels it is his responsibility to contribute to the society in all possible ways.

"I live in an atmosphere where women are respected and revered, but when I step out in the harsh reality (rural India), it is not the same. Last year, we showcased our collection with chikankari fabrics by Mijwan girls. As designers, we do influence the society through our designs. So it is my small way of working towards betterment of India," he said.

Malhotra ventured into mainstream designing in the year 1998 with his high-profile couture store Reverie – Manish Malhotra. He received immense appreciation for creating glamorous ensembles with Indian traditional colors, craftsmanship, textures and embroideries at his first fashion show in November 1999.

In over 20 years of his career, he has received nearly 35 awards. He has been felicitated by National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, the Rajiv Gandhi Award by the Mumbai Pradesh Youth Congress 2002 and the Indo American Society for his contribution to fashion designing.

Malhotra is now not only regular in India’s major fashion weeks, but has also styled for over 100 Bollywood films.

What does he prefer?

"I love everything I do! Yes, movies do hold a special place in my heart and so does fashion. We have been managing fashion weeks with styling from past few years and now its a routine. We do atleast two to three fashion shows a month on an average, along with styling for different films," he said

"Bollywood has always been supportive of me," he added.

Malhotra revolutionised costume designing with his first film as a designer for Juhi Chawla-starrer "Swarg" around two decades ago.

The designer then made his foothold in the cinema space by winning the first Filmfare Costume Award for the film "Rangeela". He later designed for films like "Raja Hindustani", "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge", "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai", "Dil To Pagal Hai", "Veer-Zaara", "Heroine", "Agneepath" and "Jab Tak Hai Jaan", and is often credited for giving Karisma Kapoor a modern makeover.

So what next?

"I am ready to celebrate 100 years of cinema with my show at Lakme Fashion Week. After that, I am going to Vancouver for Times of India Film Awards, and new stores in Mumbai and Delhi are also keeping me busy," he said.

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