The Indian fashion designer tells us about the things that he holds close to his heart
Manish Arora: ‘My friends are my biggest treasure’
If I could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, I’d be at the Burning Man festival. I would love to just suddenly open my eyes and be there. It’s where I belong. I have been every year for the last five years, and now it is part of me and who I am.
The first expensive thing I bought was a Montana perfume for men. I am from India, so when I was young, there were not many international brands available – but that was my first big indulgence, and I was in my early teens so, at the time, it was very expensive for me.
I am not a collector; I am a consumer. I like things – it doesn’t matter if they are cheap or expensive. I treasure things that are very, very cheap, and sometimes the most expensive things get used as if they are nothing. I do treasure things, but some are very silly, and some are very precious. I do actually collect a lot, but I consume rather than save. I don’t like it when things are left in boxes. I can’t do that. I have to actually use them.
My favourite cities in the world are Paris and Tokyo, and maybe Abu Dhabi after my next visit. Paris because I spend half my time there – I work between India and Paris – and showcased my first collection there. Tokyo because it is so unique. It is unlike the rest of the world and the values are very different. The aesthetics are very different. A 60-year-old man can love Mickey Mouse as much as a 5-year-old girl, and I love that childishness in everybody. That’s pretty much how I am, so I really love that about Japan.
I am sitting down to the perfect meal. I am with school friends, as they are my favourite people. You asked earlier if I collect anything – it would be friends. I am still friends with the people I went to school with, quite a few of them, and I always say that what I have earned in my life is my friends; they are my biggest treasure. So the best meal will be with them. And what will we be eating? It will be the spiciest cuisine.
I will always listen to Björk. She is amazing and is my favourite. She is wonderful, and I love her style and her music. She is so original.
If I could give advice to my 20-year-old self, it would be to have started earlier. I joined fashion school when I was 18, so I am not sure how much younger I could have started, but I wish I was 20 now. I wish I was starting now. Everything is so different; it is a different world. Colour television was introduced in India when I was 10 years old, so I have come from that to Instagram. It’s a huge jump. And it’s a lot of fun now. But I think the desire to find information and inspiration was much stronger then; everything wasn’t just on Instagram. Looking for a certain image, or a certain thing … and that thrill when you found it. You had to wait, sometimes months, to see something, and the waiting added to the value of things. Now, bam, it's just on Google.