Zardozi caught up with the master of Indian couture, Tarun Tahiliani to learn about his vision for the modern bride.
Where did you grow up?
I am an Indian who was brought up with a strong English influence and live by the mantra of India Modern. I grew up in Bombay, in a post-colonial, socialist India, where the elite clung to Jesuit schools and piano lessons and the craft of India shriveled up from a lack of design innovation and proper patronage. Slowly, a new philosophy began to develop out of this bleak environment, one that was awakened to India’s truly great heritage and one that understood that contemporary design could give India’s rich traditions a new voice and, thus, a new resonance.
My father sent me abroad to pursue a degree in Business Management from The Wharton School of Business. After returning to India, I saw a vast potential in the fine clothing and couture industry that was evolving in the country and in 1987 I opened India’s first multi-designer boutique, Ensemble along with Rohit Khosla and my wife Sal.
The only thing I knew from the very beginning, was that I was attracted to the draped form. The saree, as is worn on the body is an incredible influence on me, because of the way it wraps and moulds on different people which is incredible.
Tell us about the first time you sewed or sketched a design.
I have always sketched fashion, from the time I was six or seven. I won the best artist prize at school and my professor came up to me and said it’s great but where are you going to get in life drawing high fashion models. The journey has been wonderful.
Your designs are a strong juxtaposition of heritage and modern looks. How do you feel Indian culture influences your designs?
Art, architecture, interiors, history, travel, Maharajas; my inspiration comes from many things. Sometimes it’s from beautiful inlay work I have seen in a fabulous monument. Other times my inspiration can be something as simple as a beautiful kanjeevaram weave. Ultimately my inspiration comes from India’s rich traditions of craftsmanship, particularly when it comes to things like embroideries. Nothing is more amazing than a beautifully executed, intricate, fine technique.
Who is the Tarun Tahiliani bride?
My bridal couture imbues the bride with an element of romance, mystery and sensuality.
The Tarun Tahiliani bride loves quality and fit and knows that style is not just what one wears, but how one wears it. They live in their heritage and yet are modern. They are individualistic and flexible to the changing times.
The brides draw their allure and confidence from the Tarun Tahiliani brand – which is a modern Indian love story and romance is at the very center of its aesthetic. It’s all about Indian culture, craft and for all that it stands for: opulence, romance, passion, intrigue, seduction.
What concepts define your design aesthetic?
The Tarun Tahiliani brand has set out to create the ultimate India Modern. We are a brand with a view in the present moment, but ultimately much steeped in the Indian traditions of draped form and the techniques that millions of Indian craftspeople imbibe with love. The silhouettes combine western notions of cut, construct and finish, but using Indian heritage and craftsmanship.
What do you feel is a timeless statement piece for a bridal trousseau?
Brides should wear whatever reflects their personal style and not follow trends blindly. To look modern, one must look like oneself, choose jewellery and outfits that reflect your personality. If you truly believe in your emancipation, you should want to look like yourself during your wedding. That is the true spirit of being modern. Keep your make up light, be yourself and you can go never go wrong with the classics!