A Conversation with Haute Couture and Haute Joaillerie Designer Manish Malhotra

by Reema Farooqui

A name synonymous with high fashion and high jewellery, in India and all over the world

Couturier, stylist, jewellery designer, the multi-talented Manish Malhotra needs no introduction. With a very successful career spanning three decades, Manish has designed costumes for over a thousand Bollywood blockbuster movies. He has also styled countless Bollywood stars and international celebrities in the glamourous, one-of-a-kind creations of his eponymous haute couture brand. Mesmerizing is the best way to describe Manish’s work in the world of high fashion.

In 2019, Manish launched his high jewellery line (in collaboration with Jaipur-based heritage jewellery house, Raniwala 1881). Since then Manish Malhotra Jewellery has been worn by brides and style icons all over India and beyond.

Manish Malhotra Jewellery is primarily Indian bridal jewellery and as such is quintessentially Indian in spirit. Traditional Indian jewellery craftsmanship techniques coupled with gem materials like polki diamonds, carved gemstones and fringes of south sea pearls define this haute joaillerie line. Overall, however, the pieces have a distinctly contemporary aesthetic. This comes from their stylish designs and the use of vari-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds alongside the more traditional Indian polkis. All in all, Manish Malhotra’s high jewellery pieces are striking and wearable and complement his maximalist couture creations perfectly.

For Manish, jewellery is more than just adornment. It is an expression of the wearer’s individuality. But it doesn’t stop here. Manish sees his jewellery pieces as future heirlooms, to be worn and cherished today and for generations to come.

As an Indian haute couture and jewellery industry leader, Manish has espoused social responsibility as a guiding principle for his work. His patronage of the Mijwan Welfare Society over the past ten years has seen the revival and promotion of Chikankari, a traditional Indian embroidery craft. In addition, Manish has favoured the use of Kashmiri embroidery in his couture pieces, giving it a sophisticated interpretation while remaining true to its roots. His work in this sphere has not only promoted these arts at the global level but has also helped support different communities of artisans.

In my conversation with Manish, we discussed his jewellery journey, his latest jewellery collection Khaab, and how his jewellery pieces represent sustainable luxury.

Polki Diamond, Emerald and Pearl Choker Necklace, Manish Malhotra Jewellery
Manish, you have been a leading couture designer and stylist in the international fashion industry for three decades. The very successful debut of Manish Malhotra Jewellery in 2019, has also made you an internationally renowned high jewellery designer. Could you tell us a little about why, after many years as an haute couture designer, you decided to enter the world of high jewellery and what your jewellery journey has been like so far?

Jewellery is integral to creating an integrated look so that’s when our Manish Malhotra Jewellery comes in. With time-honored stones, like Polkis, emeralds, tanzanites, full cut diamonds, the new age-designed treasures add a heavenly touch to the overall aura of the bride and give an exquisite glamour to her personality. The journey has been great, the responses even better, we collaborated with Raniwala 1881, heritage jewelers in 2019 to curate a line of exquisite treasures for our patrons.

How rewarding or challenging has it been to design high jewellery pieces alongside your couture collections? Do you design both in tandem or does one inspire the other?

For some, jewelry is a form of art for self-expression and for some a symbol of status. Then, some wear jewelry as a representation of their tradition and culture. For me jewelry is an essential part of my ‘integrated look’. We curate a range of couture treasures that suit every occasion, season, reason or outfit. From heritage to contemporary, every stone narrates its own story.

Let’s talk about your latest jewelry collection “Khaab.” What was the inspiration for this collection and how long did it take for the collection to come alive, from design and concept ideas to the finished jewellery pieces?

Khaab Jewellery goes beyond ornamentation, the collection in itself means to desire and we have exquisitely curated timeless pieces to serve the new age moments and desires. It took us about over three month to brainstorm, conceptualise and curate the Polki line that embeds in the glory of gold and embellishes with emeralds, tanzanites, opals and all the possible exciting gems.

What drew you to collaborate with Raniwala 1881 jewellers to craft your jewellery pieces and what does high jewellery craftsmanship mean to you?

Be it any heritage treasure, Polki, jaadau, emeralds or full cut diamonds, all require expert mastery and synergy. The Raniwala family are known for their experienced eye, especially the new generation of the Raniwala family, who have always reinvented their aesthetics, which have evolved into treasured collections, exquisitely handcrafted with a timeless appeal.

You once observed that “as an Indian designer it’s my prerogative to explore our culture and heritage and my promise is to promote the rich traditions of art and design in our country.” Has Manish Malhotra Jewellery helped you come closer to realizing this aspiration and if so, how?

Yes of course every venture of any thing that is handcrafted, hand made or hand embroidered is a step closer to promoting the rich traditions of art and design our country offers. Polki jewellery, being one of the oldest forms of traditional jewellery has a touch of rich heritage coupled with timelessness. Along with gems like emeralds, pearls, opals, and sapphires that have great significance in the realm of heirlooms and prosperity.

Polki Diamond and Pearl Choker Necklace
Your jewellery pieces are future heirlooms being worn today. The impeccable designs, outstanding jewellery craftsmanship, choice of gems and of course being Manish Malhotra Jewellery pieces, will ensure that they are loved not just today, but for generations to come. Just like your haute couture, your haute joaillerie pieces speak of conscious, sustainable luxury. What does sustainability mean to you and how do you translate it into your high jewellery collections?

For the brand and especially me, sustainability means preserving the craft, culture and community that contributes to conserving it. Be it through handcrafted heirlooms like a bridal Lehenga, craft and embroideries like zardosi, zari, chikankari, Kashmiri, or handcrafted jewels that complement them which are Polkis, emeralds, diamonds.

Who do you envision as the perfect #ManishMalhotraBride?

Every #ManishMalhotraBride is unique and perfect in her own way. Our jewellery accessorizes and accentuates her beauty.

You can follow Manish Malhotra on Instagram at @manishmalhotrajewellery and @manishmalhotraworld

The images used in this article are the property of Manish Malhotra Jewellery. Any person or organization not affiliated with Manish Malhotra Jewellery may not use, copy, alter or modify any of the images used in this post, without the advance written permission of Manish Malhotra Jewellery.

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