In his latest blog post, Manou blends photographs of trendsetters shot during the Indian fashion week with those of workers dismantling the very same fashion week. Because of how and what they are wearing, the two extreme ends of the Indian society walk on a common digital ground. They meet more intimately on the internet than they ever could in real life.
This is what makes Manou special – his keen eye for clothing makes him look at Indians without discrimination; whether in the sphere of high fashion or at the street level, he has a genuine interest in appreciating and understanding his subjects’ style.
Manou’s photography is one we would associate at first glance with fashion photography, and some do link his work to the well-known “Sartorialist” series or Bill Cunningham’s work. As it is, his initial inspiration was the work of Japanese street photographer Shoichi Aoki.
In an easy way, Manou’s photos are static, having the same point of view, almost the same pose and very often the same focal length; in a subtle way his visual investigations go deep into the life of his subjects. Leaving pointers and tip-offs in his pictures, he executes simple but strong portraits, meant not be viewed in isolation but as part of a series; a long and beautiful enumeration of what Indians wear. He knows very well that what we wear is the back-story of who we are.
Photographic taxonomy is a very serious subject and those who like to classify would say that Manou is a documentary photographer; he started his journey in photography documenting the streets of Dharamsala. He intersperses his blog “Wearabout” with interviews. And nowadays he even includes more photos of the surrounding urban landscape in his documentation.
What makes his approach come together is the network of resonances zigzagging freely between his photos. The color of a shoe will resonate with a detail of an urban landscape, the dhoti of an old man will reverberate the dapper style of an urban youth, the red of a patchwork skirt from Bombay will mirror the red of a Naga shawl from the Northeast.
– Fabien Charuau