Manish Malhotra: ‘Gen Zs are all about gender-fluid and edgy fashion’

The veteran fashion designer talks about the fashion choices of Gen Zs, his latest collection, and having Ananya Panday and Aditya Roy Kapur as his muses.

Harper's Bazaar India

As we step into a new season, fashion-wise, all eyes are on the latest collections by designers. Celebrities, fashion influencers, journalists, and the sartorially-inclined, are taking notes from the recently concluded Lakmé Fashion Week x FDCI. We have our eyes peeled for trends that will fly, silhouettes that will emerge as most-loved, and what will possibly make it, into our wardrobes.

This season, veteran fashion designer Manish Malhotra closed the fashion week with a stellar collection and Ananya Panday and Aditya Roy Kapur as showstoppers. The grand finale was a lit affair brimming with style and innovation, and colossal star power with Panday and Kapur walking down the runway.

Harper’s Bazaar India caught up with Manish Malhotra to get a download on his latest collection, his muses, and what went behind creating a spectacular show.

Harper's Bazaar: Tell us about your collection and the thought process behind it.

Manish Malhotra: The second drop of Diffuse embraces the Y2K aesthetics, wearables for all seasonal occasions, and all age groups. We live in a world of digital enthusiasts, who are big believers in experimenting with their style and risk-taking with fashion. The Diffuse Collection is about statement-making wearable outfits for all occasions. Often, glamour has been restricted to couture ensembles and mainstream street style, while anything could be glamorous with just the right ingredients. The collection is a mix of alternating patterns, electric palettes, and digital graphics in contemporary silhouettes and bold aesthetics.

HB: What kind of fabrics and silhouettes does it feature?

MM: Diffuse honours classic iconic games, vibrant colour palettes, and our opulent signature shine retagging gratuitous labels. Monochromes, sharp striking blacks in statement fabrics like latex, dramatic neons, and alluring metallics define the collection, with our exuberant accessories elevating the looks.

HB: Why do you think Ananya Panday and Aditya Roy Kapur are the perfect muses for this one? 

MM: Diffuse is all about classic statement pieces that are meant to be worn with confidence and to embrace your individuality. I’ve always believed in not being afraid of making bold choices. Ananya and Aditya have great energy, they’re young, fun, and confident. They have a sense of youthfulness and yet charming elegance that makes them perfect for Diffuse. Both carry a powerful zest and look spectacular!

HB: These celebrities are style icons and are loved by many. When dressing them do you take into account their sense of style and merge it with your exemplary vision? 

MM: Every piece I create is a composition of a glimpse of my client and my own vision. Garments have a way of telling a story, of painting a picture about yourself that words probably cannot, and it would be incomplete without that. I always incorporate their creative wish along with my creative vision before dressing anyone. 

HB: How do you pick the music for your runway shows?

MM: Music is as important as garments; it sets the mood and creates an energy that complements the garments. Music is another way of embracing a vision without visuals. Diffuse is glamour mixed with wearable contemporary silhouettes for the coming generations, so the music was a mix of edgy deep-house and discotheque which has been growing by the day and sets the tone for futuristic garments. 

HB: In what way do fashion and beauty go hand in hand and can each category take inspiration from the other?

MM: In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the beauty and fashion industries towards inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability. This new era of beauty and fashion focuses on empowering people to embrace their unique identities and individuality rather than conforming to traditional beauty and fashion standards and labels. That is just fabulous, and in line with Lakmé #UnapologeticallyME.

HB: With Gen Zs and millennials being a large demographic, how do you think fashion choices have evolved and how much of the classics do we still love?

MM: Gen Zs are not afraid to experiment with their style. They're gender fluid, breezy, anti-fit and edgy. The best thing I like about the new generation is that they embrace their individuality. I think as much as we all love evolving our fashion style, trying new trends, and getting as modern as day, there’s still a little bit of classic left in all of us. It’s about how we mould these classic styles with hints of the various trends and forms we want to add so that it feels glamorous but still feels right.