He counts two of India’s most photographed brides among his clients this year, and the year is far from over. Radiant in his gentle colour palettes and ingeniously crafted statement jewellery pieces, actresses Kiara Advani and Parineeti Chopra helped establish the pretty-in-pastel trend for the years to come. However, the enterprising Manish Malhotra is not one to rest on his laurels. He’s already contemplating new creative directions and has recently announced his foray into film production with his own company, Stage 5. “Ever since I was young, I’ve loved movies and fashion,” he shares. “This passion got me into costume design, where I saw how clothes could tell stories. In 2005, I started my own couture label, bringing my storytelling to a new level. The desire to direct a film only intensified with time and the pandemic provided that reflective pause, leading me to direct a fashion film for my campaign that epitomised my two loves.”
The ambitious designer delves into his future plans, bridal forecasts and more in this interview with HELLO!
HELLO!: Manish Malhotra has redefined the way brides dress in India. Why do you love pastels so much?
Manish Malhotra: There’s just something about pastels. They have this timeless elegance. Take those muted lavenders, gentle peaches and soft ecrus; they just blend so beautifully with the intricate embroidery of bridal couture. Pastels have an innate charm to bring out a bride’s natural glow, giving her this ethereal look that feels both romantic and effortlessly chic.
H!: Parineeti Chopra’s bridal trousseau garnered attention for its pastel-themed celebration. What was the brief given to you?
MM: Parineeti was looking for that sweet spot between classic and contemporary. That’s why we chose pastels. Her wedding ensemble of ecru base and vintage gold embroidery reflected the essence of elegance while staying fresh.
H!: What is the difference between styling for a film and styling a bride?
MM: Styling for films requires understanding the character, the plot and the movie’s narrative. Whereas styling a bride is deeply personal. It’s about understanding her personality, her dreams and ensuring she feels her absolute best.
H!: You are one of India’s most sought- after bridal designers. How would you define the MM bride?
MM: An MM bride is assertive, deeply rooted in her traditions but with a contemporary mindset. She’s self-aware and knows exactly what she desires.
H!: Do you feel that the business of dressing up grooms is also getting serious now?
MM: Absolutely! Grooms today are as invested as brides. They want to be in sync with their partners and are deeply involved in choosing their outfits.
H!: What are the bridal trends for the upcoming year?
M M: Emerald jewellery is indeed trending big time. I’ve always believed in crafting jewellery that stands out and blending emeralds with diamonds or uncut stones felt like the perfect modern twist for today’s bride. This combination especially garnered attention during Kiara’s and Parineeti’s weddings and hasn’t slowed down since. As for veils, the more dramatic, the better. Brides have always been drawn to them, and I feel they add that grand touch. And the turban trails! That’s a fresh touch I introduced in our 2023 campaign. I’m thrilled to see so many men embracing and loving this element.
H!: How much of your business comes from bridal couture?
MM: Bridal couture is a significant part of my business. It’s where I began and it holds a special place in my heart.
H!: Designers are facing intense competition from international brands too in the bridal business. How do you navigate this situation?
MM: In the world of bridal fashion, it’s all about balancing our rich heritage with the ever- evolving global influence. Every bride that comes to me has a unique dream, and I’ve always seen my role as helping bring that dream alive. With global brands stepping in, the landscape is becoming more dynamic, and honestly, it’s exciting. But, amidst this change, it’s the personal touch, that signature style, that a bride connects with. And for me, it’s always been about crafting that special connection, making every bride feel that the piece was made just for her.
H!: What are your favourite fabrics and also the ones you will never use?
MM: I absolutely love chiffon. There’s something timeless about chiffon sarees (my favourite silhouette). Ever since I started, I’ve been drawn to them, especially when they’re shimmering with sequins. The way chiffon flows and reflects light, especially on the big screen, it’s like magic. It’s become my signature in both cinema and couture.
As for fabrics I won’t touch? Well, I’ve always been open to experimentation. In fashion, it’s all about evolution, so I’d never completely rule anything out.
H!: When he’s not engaged in shaping his next film production or planning his next bridal extravaganza or costume, how does MM unwind?
MM: For me, unwinding doesn’t always mean switching off. I find solace in thinking about what’s next, dreaming up new designs and ventures and imagining how to elevate things further. It’s how my mind works; always excited about the next fabulous creation.
H!: Speaking of the next best thing, congratulations on your new film production company!
MM: I’m super excited about launching Stage 5 Productions and working on various projects, one of which is movie called Bun Tikki. We’ve got an amazing star cast like Zeenat Aman, Abhay Deol and Shabana Azmi on board. We start shooting this month. And of course, you’ll see my personal touch in the movie. I’m really looking forward to this new adventure.
H!: If you were to give advice to your younger self, what would you tell him?
MM: I’d advise him to invest in a formal fashion education. While on-ground experiences have been invaluable, formal training would have enriched my journey further.
H!: Lastly, what keeps you going, Manish?
MM: My passion for fashion, the Indian craft, the love I receive from people and the desire to constantly evolve and create something unique.
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s November 2023 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!