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    Manish Arora Unveils Debut Solo Exhibition at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, Atlanta

    Exploring the Bold and Vibrant World of Indian Fashion: A Journey Through Manish Arora’s Creative Universe

    Manish Arora Spring is right around the corner, a traditional time for transformation, growth, and a newfound love for life in colour—all things celebrated in designer Manish Arora’s first solo exhibition, Life is Beautiful. Located at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta, Georgia, this exhibition explores the pivotal moments in Arora’s creative journey thus far.

    “This exhibition is of my work from the late 1990s to now,” says Arora “We chose pieces that mattered in my journey learning design.” This collage of Arora’s key work blends his personal archive with pieces loaned by collaborators and other champions of his work. Arora partnered with the museum’s creative director, Rafael Gomes, to curate the experience. Together they highlight the beauty of life through Arora’s lens, capturing everything through a prism of colour showcasing vibrant Indian culture, tradition, and craftsmanship.

    “Savannah College of Art & Design is a global university,” says Gomes, “to honour our diverse international student body, we wanted an exhibition presenting one of the most iconic names in fashion from India and South Asia, and felt there was no better subject than Manish Arora.” The collaboration came about recently through the introduction of a mutual friend and has unfolded into this rich story noting all of Arora’s key moments as a designer. “He is a storyteller. His collections narrate India’s rich sartorial history but with a worldly point of view infused with joy and humour.”

    Image may contain Fashion Clothing Dress Art Person Formal Wear and Gown

    Photo: Courtesy of SCAD

     Colin Douglas Gray

    Image may contain Adult Person and Mannequin

    Photo: Courtesy of SCAD

     Colin Douglas Gray

    The exhibition is broken down into specific themes inspired by Arora’s interests and visions—from his fascination with the future, all embellished in pink and crystals, to his love of Indian pop culture. Each vignette holds pieces from different collections and key moments in the designer’s life. All of these designs are tied together by Arora’s reimagination of traditional Indian techniques and ideas.

    You will find traditional Banarasi brocades to zardosi patterns, motifs of Ganesh crafted in a jigsaw puzzle of Swarovski crystals, and an entire collection of looks inspired by bindis with garments that showcase intricate embroidery and mirror work. Within this collection, Arora even recycles sunglass lenses by laser cutting and embroidering them into his Indian Scottish Kilt from his Spring/Summer 2008 collection.

    Image may contain Clothing Footwear Shoe Dress Sandal High Heel Adult Person Face Head Photography and Portrait

    Photo by Sonny Vandevelde

     

    Image may contain Flavia Lucini Face Head Person Photography Portrait Clothing Costume Adult and Footwear

    Photo by Sonny Vandevelde

    Throughout the exhibition, you’ll find various pieces with details crafted by his own hand. One piece that stands out is a skirt that shows a collage of Parisian iconography, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. Aside from being a nod to the designer’s current home, the skirt is entirely hand chain stitched by Arora himself, and impossible to recreate, making it a one-of-a-kind. This skirt then compliments his Incredible India look from Spring 2006, where similar themes are also embroidered from Indian iconography—such as the Delhi landscape and lotuses—to show two key places from Arora’s identity.

    Image may contain Adult Person Wedding Accessories Bag Handbag Stage and Group Performance

    Photo: Courtesy of SCAD

     Colin Douglas Gray

    Image may contain Adult Person and Wedding

    Photo: Courtesy of SCAD

     Colin Douglas Gray

    Arora showcases his other creative outlets through this exhibition as well. “I like to do new things. I always think that when you do something that you don’t know very well, [that] is when it looks the most original,” he explains as he walks us through the museum. The space is sleek with warm and dim lighting, illuminated with the kaleidoscope of colours of Arora’s designs. Between the walls of garments, jewellery, and even a curtain of Swarovski pearls and beads, you’ll find Arora’s fashion film, “Holi Holy.” The film is a commentary on Indian culture and the rules around widowhood. In 2013, the centuries-old tradition of women only wearing white and mourning the death of their husband by not celebrating Holi was broken. This story inspired Arora to build a small crew, take a camera to Benaras, a city known as a haven for widows, and create this critically acclaimed film. “I believe sometimes that when you don’t know a medium, it has the most originality coming out in it.”

    This exhibit fits right into the museum’s avenue to explore the works of a diverse set of creatives. An offshoot of the Savannah College of Art and Design, the fashion and film museum is dedicated to spotlighting global fashion and artistry, as with Arora. For students, this is the kernel of inspiration that grows into something so much more. “We have so many international fashion design students that study fashion because of Manish,” says Gomes.

    What both Arora and Gomes hope to achieve through this showcase is that there is so much more behind the glamour. “Fashion is a job,” Arora says, “it’s discipline, creative ideas and hard work.” These three key principles are what build the colourful world that is celebrated through this exhibition and what will hopefully inspire this new generation of designers.

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