“Welcome to my disco gypsy land,” said Manish Arora as he greeted the press backstage before his show at Paris’ Faust nightclub. The affable designer with a knack for theatrics was eager to explain a shift in his aesthetic away from his core muse — sporty, girlish characters clad in psychedelic patterns — and toward a more grown-up, still exuberantly colorful, but definitely more sophisticated woman.
“My girl is going to the disco now, she wears heels, she needs to grow up,” Arora said. “I was thinking Jerry Hall and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54, but mixed and matched with my Indian-ness.” He then illustrated his point by sending veteran model Debra Shaw, who also fronts the label’s just-launched guerilla poster campaign, down the runway looking like a gypsy queen in a multilayered, half tutu-half peasant skirt number. It was cinched with a large butterfly belt and topped by a cropped bolero garnished with beading and folkloric patterns. Bedouin hair ornaments and platform sandals further fed the theme.
While Arora’s craftsmanship was more complex than ever, embellishment was key here. Hearts, stars, butterflies, ethnic floral patterns and even little Rubik’s cubes and cassettes — the designer’s personal memories from the era — were densely embroidered, stitched, crocheted or printed onto the fabric. Some of the handworked pieces took one and half months to make, he said. Looking beyond the extravagant styling — and approaching some of the pieces as separates that could be paired with a tank top or jeans — the collection offered a range of wearable options for a spring and summer of bohemian chic.