For a sugar rush, count on Manish Arora. Today, as guests filed into the Palais de Tokyo, the unmistakable sounds of the addictive hit game Candy Crush Saga popped through the speakers. On cue, a candy addicted mother-of-one and her cohort of saccharine heroines, trawled the runway (and the world) for their next fix of the sweet life. One minute, she was a bohemian in a nylon capelet, the next she was a widow pilgriming through eastern lands, clad in richly embroidered or printed cloth. Throughout, a backpack figured her baby – the head was a hood and little pouches in the legs could be used to store trinkets or change. On every surface, jelly beans, lemon drops and candy canes galore! The sweets leant their chemical palette to the designer, and boy, could Arora give the Holi festival of color a run for its money.
There is the feeling that this season is a culmination of sorts, rounding back to the elements that make Manish Arora a high-octane, visually intensive brand. Cuts were youthful and of the moment. The designer knows his customer and she’s not one to shy away from loud, happy vistas. For example, there were full skirts but adorned in candy cane stripes, or a skirt richly embroidered in a full landscape of Candyland. Skullcaps featured furry cherries or gummy bears. Loose trousers and leg warmers had street-aware smarts but shimmered. There was little respite in the colorful onslaught, even in the darker prints; everywhere, elements were piled on top of each other. Even the final dress, all fuchsia sequined florals, felt loud in its simplicity. But bets are that his commercial variations will put this visual fount to good use.
As ever, it’s in the detailing that Arora kills it. Laser cut elements were filigrees of cupcakes and sweet swirls. Heritage embroidery was used extensively, but any sepia imagery that could have evoked was given a highlighter-bright makeover. Even the pixel perfect gradient of a digital print got depicted in sequins. And then there were the sneakers. Long before the pre-finale where obscurity revealed the flashes they emitted with each step, it was clear that the oh-so-now footwear was long in the making in this flat, chunky-soled incarnation.
Last season, he was lauded for toning it down. This season, it’s go big or go home (and eat candy on the couch). But it felt like a sweet goodbye. One can’t help wonder if he’ll ever exhibit this much colorful naiveté again. At least we know what became of that backpack baby. He grew up and now shows his fashions in Paris.