To call Manish Arora's Fall collection a sugar rush would be the understatement of the week (yes, this early on). In his most ambitious and eccentric collection yet, the maximalist imagined a clan of "sweet-toothed nomads and gummy-bear gypsies" adorned in enough saccharine kitsch to give you a bellyache. As research, the designer said he purchased bags and bags of candy. Then he combined ethnic and edible ingredients—generous Peruvian circle skirts and Popsicles, baggy Chinese workers' trousers and cupcakes—applied beading as if it were frosting, and finally cherry-topped the looks with furry, fruity caps and earmuffs. For the embroidered pieces, Arora channeled the whimsy of Wonka while drawing on the craftsmanship of his Indian artisans. All those micro plastic jelly beans and doughnuts had to be specially fitted with tiny holes so they could be placed in precise graphic motifs. Tiny coiled tubes were impressively stitched into cupcake shapes.
But Arora made sure to satisfy commercial cravings; those nylon backpacks with floppy legs that approximated a baby sling will sell fast. Candy-striper knits in red and white were equal parts cute and clever. Covered in large-scale photo-realist prints, the sporty separates would be the perfect fit for a K-pop video (see Katy Perry's "California Gurls" for inspiration).
You might start to wonder, however, whether there was a more substantial geo-sociopolitical message to the collection: Imagine if the residents of Candy Land were forced to flee their sugar shacks in the wake of new threats from the Insulin Resistance. But no, Arora's raison d'être was sweetness and optimism to the core. By the end, when the models took a turn with the house lights dimmed so their blinking LED kicks would provide one last jolt of cloying, you weren't sure whether to hand Arora a gargantuan lollipop for originality or put him on an indefinite sugar ban.