Dh750, from the Manish Arora X Riva collection. Courtesy of Riva
Known for his utterly extravagant runway shows, complete with stellar beauty looks and in recent seasons, a pet Pomeranian, fashion designer Manish Arora has just launched a collaboration exclusive to the Middle East. Joining forces with Riva, a clothing label owned by Kuwaiti fashion company Armada, Arora brings his exuberant vibe to the region with a capsule collection of affordable garments.
Arora has been showing at Paris Fashion Week for the past decade – in fact, this year marked his 10th anniversary. As can be expected, his catwalk collections come at a fairly high price point, attainable only for consumers who can afford to splurge on ready-to-wear. Prices for Arora’s limited-edition range with Riva, however, start at Dh206 and go up to Dh875 for an embroidered and embellished military jacket. The most expensive item in the collection is an abaya-style cape with heavily embellished shoulders, priced at Dh1,118.
“With my own brand, I have a very limited reach because of the prices and the kinds of stores I sell in, whereas there’s Riva, which comes with a much more mass-market approach,” says Arora during an interview with The National in The Dubai Mall, where the collection launched on May 18.
“Riva approached me, and I was curious to do a collection that was made specifically for the Middle East. It’s interesting to understand what the mass market likes here,” he says.
Arora’s outlandish runway silhouettes, stamped with optical prints, may be among his signature looks, but the designer has simplified them for his collection with Riva, ensuring to add longer sleeves and hemlines for the Middle East market. “We got some input from Riva, understanding what works for them and who their customer is – we took some elements from that, then we made it our own,” he explains. “Every culture has its own way of dressing, and that’s what you have to always respect and keep in mind.”
Though a partnership with Riva means that his designs will be available at a fraction of his runway prices, Arora isn’t one to cut corners – he brought his famous handiwork with him to the high street. Kaftans feature vibrant embroidery and jackets are topped off with gold tassels. It’s an eclectic mix; one that combines his Indian heritage with quirky motifs. A blingy white blouse and hunter green jacket in the collection are both decorated with fully beaded collars, along with embroidered roses and dice. And while embroidery may be a key trend of the season, featuring on pinstriped shirts and jeans all over the runways and high-street stores, Arora explains that for him, it’s a significant cultural craft rather than a momentary trend.
“I’m from India, and it would be very silly of me not to do embroidery because if anybody can do embroidery well, it’s the Indians,” he tells me. “It may be in fashion or not for others, but for me it’s a constant feature in my collections.”
While Arora may take pride in his Indian heritage, he reveals that designing clothes for Bollywood films is definitely not on his bucket list. “I’ve been asked many times, and I do dress some Bollywood actresses, and some of them happen to be very good friends of mine, like Sonam Kapoor. So they wear my clothes, but I’m not into making clothes for films,” he says. “I love Bollywood; I have nothing against it. For me, I would do a film if the clothes are the hero. For that, we’ll have to create a special script.”