Couturier Tarun Tahiliani is relentless in a way that makes his sartorial quest for perfection, a story that we all love to see unfurl every season in his beautiful drapes, which have now become quintessential “TT” elements. And of his own admission, it is this discipline that has seen him survive the last two years and has witnessed him embrace the hybrid realm of the “phygital” like a fish takes to water. In our conversations over the recent years, Tarun has made his displeasure about excesses amply clear, and therefore, when the master of “India Modern” says he is about to present his take on the “Global Indian” as fashion week returns to the physical ramp, one must take a deeper look.
For his showcase on the fourth day of FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week, Nexa has partnered with the veteran designer as he is all set to present a luxury pret collection at fashion week for the first time. Set at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium “with the India Gate on one side” and music that Tarun has personally looked into the selection of, the fashion show with about 80 looks follows on the heels of a relatively-quieter Instagram drop of his spring-summer ’22 line called Here Comes The Sun. Meanwhile on the ramp today, drapes fused with streamlined silhouettes and aerodynamic forms, glamorous and modern cuts, texture, metallic sheen and detailing are all expected to catch our eyes as the designer presents his take on how he envisages the contemporary, urban Indian. In a Telegraph chat, he decodes his approach to the hybrid pandemic world and what we can expect at today’s fashion show:
How does it feel to be back to a completely physical format at fashion week, this year?
We did fashion week last year as they were very keen for us to do it. It feels very nice to be back and I like taking every opportunity because it really takes your brand out there and whatever we did last year despite the lockdown made me very pleased. But now is time to get back to the normal cycle. I don’t want to show now and sell now and I am certainly not showing ‘summer resort’ at the end of March — makes no sense to me. We are going back to a slightly older model where we show in advance because these things do take time to make. What I am showing is very loungey, it is evening-ish — it is stylish but not embellished. It is great for Goa, it is great for evenings. Frankly, the problem with showing in advance is plagiarism but this particular collection is very difficult to copy. It is draped and the fabrics we have used are beautiful. But copy or not, that is how we work. I will concentrate on bridal after this.
It is a lovely time to be in Delhi and at a lovely location at the Dhyan Chand Stadium with the India Gate at one side. It’s nice to see the whole thing back. Finally, it’s not a party. It’s an industry requirement and that is why fashion weeks happen around the world and there’s a whole purpose to it.
A glimpse from Tarun Tahiliani’s spring-summer collection called Here Comes The Sun
So how does the master of “India Modern” now take on the “Global Indian”?
We looked at two-three things. Besides a few outfits, a lot of these pieces can be mixed and matched. We have talked about sustainability and we have said that we have to value our craftsmen. If we want to buy something beautiful, it can be luxury and we have to value it. If it’s beautiful, people understand that luxury for themselves on their skin. Then you buy better and when you buy separates, you can put them together in your way. It’s a story that you’ll have for a much longer time. There is a lot of stuff in here that you can wear in multiple ways. When I say it’s for the “global India”, it does not mean that today, you are very Indian and wear ethnic. I mean it in a way that you can mix it with a pair of Gucci pants, two things from TT and shoes from somewhere else and it is still Indian, contemporary and not costume. It can travel and it can be worn anywhere.
Tell us about your thoughts behind both your spring-summer Instagram drop and the fashion week collection…
The stores run on a particular schedule as there is a whole ecosystem that is dependent on it. Also, this year has a lot of weddings in the summer, which is why we did the spring-summer line. A lot of the pieces can be worn to festive occasions like a mehndi or a sangeet or even a black-tie.
We are also bifurcating the company into fashion and bridal because they are both very different looks. This collection at fashion week is black, beige, ecru, a pale shell and a taupe. We have done our own prints, screen printing, we have done smocking — it’s fashion and not just embroidery. It’s a long show and we are sending out around 80 models with a wave of people coming at you.
How do you distinguish between bridal and the fashion segments of the industry? Which one makes you the happiest to work with?
It’s not that I don’t love bridal but I have always loved fashion more. I mind bridal getting too much into costume. One day you will be a black-tie star and next day, you will be like Jodha-Akbar with 30kg clothes! I have a problem with this excess. I thought the pandemic would help people get rid of it but some have and some have still not.
And congratulations on your son Jahan’s wedding. How does it feel to be on the other side and organising a wedding in the family?
You know, Jahan just went to the store and got a beautiful chikan kurta and one of his friends showed up and got something identical but Jahan could not care less! It was just 50 people and it was really spirited, light, elegant and fun! And I was like this is what weddings should be. We are having the celebration over this weekend so I have been going crazy with fashion week and this together! (Laughs)
Pictures: Courtesy of designer