Manish Arora & Alcantara: Dream Makers

Words by Alexandra Lefevre

Alcantara, the Italian brand of a unique proprietary technology material which combine aesthetic, technical and sensory qualities mostly used in the car and fashion industry, set up a collaboration with one of the most esteemed names in Paris fashion week and ex Paco Rabane artistic director : the Indian designer Manish Arora. We met him and M. Andrea Boragno, CEO of Alcantara at the Paris Motor Show where they present « Life is Beautiful », the installation of their collaboration.

You both define your works and yourselves as dreamers. « Can you imagine ? », « Can you dream ? » and « Indulge your imagination with an extraordinary material that offers infinite possibilities of expression » are the catch phrases of Alcantara. Manish Arora you said once that your work was about fantasy, about a dream and about what you feel. Then, we saw you both doing a fashion show at a car show : Alcantara at the last Car Design Night in Beijin and Manish Arora at the Buddh International Circuit in India. So seeing you two working together at the Paris Motor Show 2014 is not really surprising, but still…

Why this collaboration, and how did this come together ?

A.B : We met very recently and we discovered that it will be a way to fit together, because we saw his creativity and we thought that from with his creativity could have come a very interesting possibility of interpretation of Alcantara.

M.A : Alcantara is a material which everybody knows about and I think they were the one who invented the suede, which is still I think the most material on it’s own. I think it’s a thing that nobody could ever compete with. And they met me, they were looking for installation or something like that for the car exhibit but when we met is when we realized we got along well and we thought it was good to create something which is happy because I think the brand itself is a very family brand.

For you, how is fashion related to cars ?

M.A : Because they are the common factor. Alcantara is the common factor between cars and fashion.

A.B : Many car brands, they are looking for the connexion with fashion. I think about Mercedes with his fashion week. All the fashion shows all over the world, and many of the very important brands, they are looking for a trend in the industry that has became a lifestyle. So, as a matter of fact, we have an extremely important presence in automotive industry, especially in this part of the market. But we also are in fashion because it’s important.

Manish Arora, we’ve seen you use your creativity in fashion and some previous collaboration as Monoprix, Swatch or Nespresso, but never yet for Art itself as an installation, why this choice ?

M.A : Because they asked me. It’s as simple as that.

Your installation which represents a house is called « Life is Beautiful », and happiness is a major theme in your work in fashion. Why is this so important ? What is your definition of happiness ?

M.A : Happiness can be something very basic. Happiness can be a new pillow cover before you sleep, I think that’s happiness. But to put that across, I thought if they got me in the project, my ideology of « Life is Beautiful » works like that. Even if we have bad days we still work thinking. And I thought it was the best way to do this project to bring some happiness in it. I think everybody needs happiness these days.

Positive psychology says that we think we first have to get succes in order to be happy, but that in fact it´s the exact opposite, you have to get happiness to then be successful. Are you a supporter of this philosophy? Are you trying to make people happy through your work?

M.A : That was a very complicated question. All I can say is I think that happiness comes before being rich or poor and you can be poor and happy.