'Beach baroque' comes to Paris with India's Arora
Gold bangles twirled lizard-like up calves, around necks and backs, as the band roared out electro updates of James Bond theme tunes: welcome to Manish Arora's baroque world.
The Indian designer took Paris Fashion Week on a journey from Saint Petersburg to Miami, via the deserts of Rajasthan, melding baroque influences with India's traditional jewelry and 1960s pop painting.
"I thought it could be nice to make sort of a beach baroque," the designer told reporters backstage.
The result? Gold did battle with raspberry pink, pastel purple and jade, as models walked out on gravity-defying stilettos, in legging-and-dress sets embossed with ornate, sculpted breast plates and geometric motifs.
Gold was everywhere, in scales and twists that defined ankles, bulked out shoulders, circled necks or the small of the back, creating reptilian body armour, like shoulder-to-wrist armbands of spiked gold worn by one model.
"The bangles are from Rajasthan -- but the inspiration was baroque," the designer explained. "I was travelling in Saint Petersburg, and happened to see how they used light pastel colours with gold on it. That really attracted me."
Arora also drew ideas from a Japanese artist who painted Miami in the 1960s -- whose pastel-hued paintings of beach-and-palm-tree sunsets he faithfully embroidered onto a series of short, body-hugging dresses.
Painted bar codes adorned the models' foreheads, while hair was pulled up into palm-tree ponytails.
Also from the paintings came an automobile motif -- with model cars worn as headgear, in gold or canary yellow, or in one case chopped up and patchworked into a yellow top.
For the show, Arora unearthed a rare 1920s instrument called the theremin -- which is sensitive to movement -- backed by a rock outfit, to roll out electro renditions of anthems like the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black."
"I thought the rock element added a nice twist," he said.
Gold-smithery aside, Arora said the collection was deceptively simple -- replete with hidden structure.
"All are corseted from the inside. I'm known to do complicated clothes with lots of embellishment, but the styles have never been so fitted, so sculptured.
"It was time to make woman look sexy also," he said.
© 2010 AFP