Dubai-based designer Varoin Marwah during an interview in Dubai
Dubai-based fashion designer Varoin Marwah during an interview in Dubai Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai-based Indian designer Varoin Marwah, who has dressed up Bollywood A-listers such as Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan in his flamboyant and quirky creations, is a big fan of scheduling and jotting down to-do lists.

The menswear designer may come across as a cool cat with a bohemian flair in his apartment on Sheikh Zayed Road, but Marwah knows he performs best under "controlled chaos".

“So my day actually starts the night before. I know it sounds weird but I cannot sleep without having my whole day planned out in a calendar format,” said Marwah in an interview with Gulf News.

We are at his swanky apartment on Shaikh Zayed Road and the former flight attendant-turned-designer was bang on time for this sit-down interview.

His accent wall is painted in bold black and white stripes – perhaps a reflection of how he likes his life and day sorted and compartmentalised in neat columns. 

“My apartment has a bit of me in it,” said Marwah looking around his stylish living room. There’s a gold-plated bottle of sanitiser that dispenses the product with a sprinkling of actual 24-carat real-gold dust.

“A bit of sparkle and actual gold star-dust doesn’t hurt anyone in Dubai, does it? And yes, it happens only in Dubai” said Marwah with a laugh.

While the nature of his seemingly glamorous job expects him to think outside the box, he wants every other aspect of his life painstakingly controlled.

I experienced fashion when I was a cabin crew in flights heading to places like Milan, Paris, and New York. The amount of access I got was unbelievable and I got to save and collect some money to hone my skills in fashion.

- Varoin Marwah

“Every hour of my day is pretty much divided. Even if I have to give myself a lunch break or some me-time for the day, it’s planned the night before. I can’t get proper sleep if I don’t have my whole day planned,” said Marwah.

He believes micromanaging your own life and time is an acquired art that needs constant polishing and tweaking.

NAT 220820 VAROIN MARWAH ARAMZAN 6-1664897306951
Varoin Marwah loves to jot down everything in his to-do list on his phone or iPad Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/GulfNews

“I am aware of everything that’s going on in my life and work … There’s not a single order that goes out of my atelier without my knowledge. Making sure everything is aligned -- the clothes, delivery, and shipment -- makes me feel at peace,” he added.

But such clarity of thoughts came with time. In his early twenties, he was unfamiliar with the concept of maintaining daily calendars and schedules. And he paid a heavy price for his scattered lifestyle.

“I used to miss out on so many events and meetings because I couldn’t remember every event and my brain couldn’t prioritise things … There were times when I ended up going on the wrong day to the shows or turned a day later to events or meetings … So I have learned it the hard way that it’s best to be organised and you tend to be more relaxed then,” said Marwah.

The designer, who’s on the speed-dial of stylists who dress up the relatively younger brigade of actors like Arjun Kapoor who is game for taking on some sartorial risks on the red carpet, is also a text-book "morning person".

People take you seriously in fashion if you have crossed a certain age limit. Imagine if I was going to make a couture garment at 20 and charge that price, people would not have taken me seriously.

- Varoin Marwah

“Waking up by 7am every day is a mandatory requirement for me. It doesn’t matter where I am or what time I got back the night before. My body will just wake me up at 7am and by 9am I am at work,” said Marwah. There are days -- especially during festive and marriage season -- when work and social commitments go past midnight, but waking up relatively early is a part of his life now.

“You gain so much more time than a person who wakes up around noon … I get more stuff done. During the day, I am looking at orders of clothes that need to be sent out and by afternoon I am out meeting my clients. I meet at least five clients in a day and each meeting takes around two hours. I am working from 9am to 9pm every day,” said Marwah. His sense of discipline with time came when he worked as a cabin flight crew with a popular UAE-based airline.

Varoin Marwah
Varoin Marwah Image Credit: Supplied

“Since I was in aviation there was always a need to wake up early … And later I began training all those wanted to become cabin crew. So I was in this loop of waking up early at 6am, being at work by 7am,” said Marwah. The fashion graduate who chose to work in the aviation industry had a clear idea on how he wanted his life to pan out.

“I just wanted to travel the world and I thought what better way than fly around the world for work? It gave me a lot of exposure to people and experiences. I experienced fashion when I was a cabin crew in flights heading to places like Milan, Paris, and New York. The amount of access I got was unbelievable and I got to save and collect some money to hone my skills in fashion,” said Marwah.

He truly believes that the fashion industry gives a wider berth and importance to veteran designers who have a body of work behind them. Unlike models whose advancing age is considered a negative, fashion designers have a different battle to fight, claims Marwah.

“People take you seriously in fashion if you have crossed a certain age limit. Imagine if I was going to make a couture garment at 20 and charging that price, people would not have taken me seriously. In my twenties, travelling the world meant the world to me and meeting different kinds of people back then helped me to become who I am today,” said Marwah.

This designer who’s known for his affable nature and charming personality chose to make his base in Dubai because his siblings live here and the fashion on the streets and catwalks are sharp.

“People in Dubai enjoy wearing good clothes and love fashion. They are passionate about it and I feel connected to Dubai because it’s such a fascinatingly fashion-forward city. They have a keen eye for detail, bling and everthing in between,” he added.

Not a gym rat

Surprisingly, Marwah – who works in an industry that gives a lot of prominence to looks, waistline, pecks, and abs – isn’t a fan of working out. He belongs to the ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ school of thought.

“I am very much conscious about my health and am very aware of the lifestyle implications of sleeping late … Every day, I wake up to a glass of hot water, lemon, and honey. I have been off caffeine for a month now. Fresh tender coconut water taken twice a day keeps me hydrated,” said Marwah. He has subscribed to a strict 1800-calorie-controlled meal service which ensures that his meals are all nutritious. His cholesterol levels aren’t looking particularly good and he hopes to get the numbers under control soon.

“Having your meals calorie-controlled removes the stress of what I should eat in a day … Trust me, you can easily pick up a bag of chips or something bad if you haven’t planned your meals,” he cautioned. This man, who swears by "work hard and play hard" philosophy, also believes in being in touch with his spiritual self.

“Being in touch with my spiritual side calms me down tremendously … Remember nobody is going to come and tell me if I go off-track! To be successful in life, you have to lead by example. I lead my team by showing up on time and being dedicated to my work every second of the day.”

Like most young designers who are on the Bollywood map today, Marwah owes his popularity and success to social media.

“Everything in my career happened because of Instagram. I was doing show after show and I was just putting pictures on Instagram. And all the stylists to stars are very active on social media. I remember getting a DM [direct message] from a stylist who was sourcing clothes for Varun Dhawan and I thought it wasn’t legitimate, but then we began talking in earnest. Within a week, Varun was wearing my white and green jacket. After that, a fleet of Bollywood actors like Arjun, Sushant [late actor Sushant Singh Rajput], Ranveer, began wearing my clothes.”

Varoin Marwah with Sushant Singh Rajput
Varoin Marwah with the late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput Image Credit: Instagram/VaroinMarwah

While he has a faithful set of clients in Dubai and beyond whom he caters to during weekdays, his Sundays are sacrosanct.

“I don’t schedule anything on Sundays and that’s the time when I truly relax. But the best part about my life is that I feel my work is like my play. Clothes excite most people and fashion is my passion, I feel my days aren’t hectic because my work is my ultimate passion."