By: ASJAD NAZIR
Bridal Genesis: After finishing my studies in fashion from London, I started my eponymous couture label eight years ago, and it was an exciting time for me because it almost felt like having your first child. A lot of care, dedication, hard work, sleepless nights, and prayers were all put into structuring a business. I always wanted to design an affordable, yet glamorous and luxurious bridal wear, and I was able to culminate that with the help of a very talented and hardworking team of artisans. Our designs were admired and adorned by brides from almost every ethnicity.
First collection: My first collection was an amalgamation of ideas derived from the Victorian era wherein a lot of delicate fabrics like French lace, Chantilly, tulle, and silk were used to create a sublime bridal wear. The entire line was intricately hand-made in India to create a majestic look with Swarovski crystals, pearls, glass beads, sequins, and lurex threads. Since this was my first collection, it holds a very special place in my heart. When we debuted this line in London, it received a superlative response.
Magic 100: In 2019, we reached a grand milestone of dressing more than 100 brides for their big day. This was a remarkable and special feeling for us, as we celebrated this milestone with ‘our stars’, who are our team of artisans. Within the first few years of our brand presence, we managed to dress up brides who came from multicultural backgrounds and ethnicities. Simultaneously, we also started our menswear line and dressed up many grooms to match their bride’s outfits.
Going global: Our first international cover feature with a leading bridal magazine was definitely worthy of one of my top 10 fashion moments. All the models on the cover were dressed in signature Mansi Malhotra couture ensembles. The cover was revealed by Bollywood superstar Kareena Kapoor Khan in London.
International award: Being personally honoured by the coveted Indian Community Federation in South Africa for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014 at their Eastern Bridal Fair in Durban. The show comprises of various Bollywood acts, with movie stars flown in, and choreographed fashion shows for three days at a time. I was the only Indian designer to have been invited on this podium for two years in a row for the finale show. It was truly a unique opportunity for me to meet and interact with the warm and loving Indian community there. I also exhibited my collection, which was sold out both times at the bridal fair. Previously, Indian designers like Payal Singhal, Vikram Phadnis and Varun Bahl have been participants at this event.
Surreal inspiration: I have been greatly inspired by artists, fashion designers and musicians, among others, and one such inspiration ranks at the top for me. It was when I went to see the exhibition titled Savage Beauty in honour of late British designer Alexander McQueen at the Victoria & Albert Museum. This was a truly lifetime sensory experience, where I witnessed McQueen’s spectacular catwalk presentations unleashed with powerful and romantic aesthetics, almost evoking the feelings of shock, darkness, and sublimity.
Flying high: Our diffusion line Birds of Arcadia was an ethereal and highly satisfactory creative design process for me. This was the first time we were using mostly silk threads for handwork with limited use of sparkle to create our Luxury pret collection. It was a risky proposition for me to try as I had been designing bridal wear until now, but with this collection, I explored the idea of making subdued couture with minimalism to reach out to the larger audience. Birds of Arcadia was sold at some of the top multi-designer retail outlets and e-commerce platforms.
Delightful drape: With the drape sari we conceptualised a modern version of the sari way earlier than our peers and it became the top-most selling item for us right from the beginning. We have sold multiple units of variations of the drape sari in many countries and still continue to do so. We established our signature drape and one such design has been selling for us for eight years now and continues to be in demand. It’s a wonderful feeling to see our drape saris sell so well and have been reordered by almost every client who has bought it. They all love it.
A touch of sparkle: The launch of our jewellery line has been a great learning curve for me. I loved juxtaposing precious stones, south-sea pearls, diamonds and polki with real gold to create a bespoke range of jewels. Our designs have been liked and bought by some of the very well-known personalities in the UK, Hong Kong, India, South Africa, USA, UAE, Singapore, and Australia. We provide a complete range of jewels for brides and their families, for all the wedding functions.
French motivation: I love to travel and seek inspiration for my artworks and exploring art museums in every city. I have always admired the French luxury brand Baccarat for their high-end, fine crystal products. Hence, I paid a visit to the Baccarat Museum in France, and it was a mesmerising visual experience for me. I took inspiration from their impeccability in design and inculcated certain ideas into our hand-embroideries and jewellery even. As a designer, such creative outbursts have been emotionally rewarding for me and for our business too.
Mansi Malhotra is an independent couture fashion designer, who has a global clientele, including in India, London, Dubai, Singapore, South Africa, Hong Kong, USA, Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Visit Instagram & Facebook: @mansimalhotraofficial