Up and away with designer Manish Arora

We are invited to join the Paris-based Indian designer on a hot-air balloon ride, but things do not quite go according to plan

Manish Arora collection at Tryano
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When luxury retail brand Tryano invited us on a hot-air balloon ride with Manish Arora, we jumped at the chance. After all, it is not every day that one gets the chance to hang out with a world-famous fashion designer.

The day arrived, and as we glided peacefully across the desert at dawn, it became apparent that something was amiss. While we had all scrambled aboard as the balloon rose off the sand, one person had not. Arora was missing. It transpired that he had arrived late on a flight from Shanghai – and missed the boat, so to speak. 

The trip was a metaphor of sorts, because Tryano is about to embark on a new adventure of its own. When the luxury concept store, which is owned by the Chalhoub Group, launched in Yas Mall in 2015, it carried a huge selection in just three categories: handbags, beauty and childrenswear. Since then, and in response to customer demand, it has expanded this to include jewellery and shoes. And now it is evolving once more, with the launch of women’s ready-to-wear. Which brings us back to Arora, who was the first designer to show his collections in-store.

The launch included breakfast in the desert with Manish Arora. Courtesy Tryano
The launch included breakfast in the desert with Manish Arora. Courtesy Tryano

Once we arrived back on land, we finally got the chance to speak with the man of the moment, over breakfast in the desert. The big question was, why, with such an already punishing international schedule, did he want to get involved with this launch? "We have been with the Chalhoub Group for a long time," Arora says. Also part of the Chalhoub portfolio was Saks Fifth Avenue (the now defunct Dubai department store), which opened in 2005 and was one of the very first outlets in the region to carry Manish Arora womenswear.

As well as sending journalists up in a balloon, another part of this celebration was a runway show that allowed customers to see Arora’s spring/summer 2018 collection up close. Given that the designer is normally part of the Paris Fashion Week schedule, to have him put together an in-store fashion show was a major coup.

As Sharmila Murat, Tryano’s general manager, says: “To have such a colourful and innovative designer as Manish on board is amazing, because we have been working with him for a very long time.” Hot-air balloons also featured in the advertising campaign ahead of the launch. “The balloon ride is about exploring new horizons,” Murat says. “We are taking a journey because this is representative of what is happening in-store.

“There is so much fashion choice out there, it can be overwhelming,” she says. “It’s like cable TV. Having thousands of channels is so stressful. Now people find they prefer to turn to Netflix or Apple TV, because it curates and makes suggestions. People are looking for recommendations and that’s what we are trying to do. We are going out and thoughtfully picking new brands and new pieces, so they don’t have to.” Tryano will also be stocking clothing by Alice & Olivia, Elie Tahari and David Meister.

Read more:

Manish Arora: an exclusive interview with 'the Indian John Galliano'

Fashion year in review: The stand-out moments of 2017 


Ahead of the runway show, Arora was clearly excited to have been chosen to mark the launch of this new chapter in the Tryano story. “It’s historical to be the first designer to do a show for women’s ready-to-wear collections,” he says.

We just hope he turned up on time.