Suzy Menkes reports on designers proud to portray their national heritage in their clothes
I have seen magnificent collections from Manish Arora both in his native India and in Paris.
I can conjure up the wild, theatrical, dizzyingly patterned, printed, and decorated creations from a designer for whom too much was never enough.
I also remember some of his India/Europe collaborations. In fact, I think he was the first designer to go crazy with colours and patterns on sneakers. It must have been soon after the turn of the millennium that I saw on a trip to Mumbai his Fish Fry Sportswear collaboration with Reebok, which was way ahead of the great footwear trend of the moment.
But that was then. In his Spring/Summer 2015 collections it looked like Manish wanted to be all things to all people.
The main vibe was sport, as models decked in rose-pink flower patterns donned colourful baseball caps and wore them with delicate sweatshirts with appliqués of embroidery. That look, with a pleated chiffon skirt, was pretty enough. But instead of taking the sporty trousers or similar patterns on tops with flaring skirts, the collection started to lookpretty/fetching – but familiar.
This level of appliquéd embroidery was a world away from cheap, high street dressing. But slip dresses, long or short, with the rose decoration, seemed generic.
An eye motif and silver gladiator sandals took Manish through various elements of street style. I liked the end passage with a multi-coloured eye on the front of simple dresses. But so many of the clothes – especially those Indian deities plonked on sweatshirts — never achieved anything so quintessentially Indian in decoration, but global in culture, as those early sneakers.