New Delhi designer Manish Arora wanted his collaboration with Jaipur jewelry company Amrapali to champion the age-old customs of his native India, but he also wanted it to speak to the myriad ways modern women mix and match their accessories. “Jewelry is one of the most important parts of Indian culture, but it’s not really jewelry in the fashion sense—it’s personal,” Arora says. “It can completely change your look and outlook.” Famous for the dramatic, fantastical collections he shows every season in Paris, Arora pushes Amrapali’s traditional silhouettes to a much campier place by making iconic Indian shapes louder. Take, for example, Manish’s colorful twist on a symmetrically perfect circular bracelet that’s typically worn for weddings. “The Queen of Hearts bracelet is an Indian design called bangri, and this is a very ethnic piece, but now Manish has completely changed it,” explains Amrapali’s CEO Tarang Arora (the two are not related). “By adding the little hearts of cubic zirconia, and the different colors, we’ve taken it and made it more international, cooler.” Other pieces are even brasher. One bracelet wraps up the wrist like a snake, and a pair of tiger-headed ear cuffs sit outlandishly on top of the lobe. Meenakari, the Indian art of applying enamel to metal, is used for cheeky pastel colors, and the bright gold throughout the collection screams J.Lo as much as it does its more customary Indian symbolism for the sun. “It’s all shiny gold, very much all about bling,” says Tarang. Like the oversized rings that reach out across three fingers with Indian splendor, Arora has managed to go big and go home at the very same time.
(Styling Deidre Dyer, Model Nayantara Banerjee.)