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‘Nouveau riche is not my customer’

‘Nouveau riche is not my customer’
‘Couture is  a different philosophy,’ announces designer Tarun Tahiliani. The ace designer is back with the fourth edition of the Tarun Tahiliani Couture Exposition which he will showcase at the upcoming Couture Week in the Capital.

His collection encapsulates various moods. A whole section has been devoted to the sari, there is a bridal section that focusses on the main ceremony, there is something for mehendi as well. Tahiliani has also devoted a few pieces for men.

So what was the idea behind the collection? ‘I have toyed with Indian textiles, multiple layerings, embroidery... the same ideas have been revisited,’ he explains.

For the collection, Tahiliani created different kinds of latticing. The ensembles have motifs which have been inspired by the jali work at the Taj Mahal. Some of the ensembles have six layers and he has also made crystal mesh fabric from crushed Swarovski crystals. There is
gota
work, ari work and extensive layering.

There are concept saris with fluted black lining, tulle saris embellished with tiny floating flowers with a hand-embroidered border, traditional lehengas with threadwork and zardozi embroidery paired with cholis, sherwanis with zardozi borders and digitally printed sequin sheathed stole and more. The clothes have been designed in such a way that one does not need to pile on jewellery. ‘The nouveau riche is not my customer. My customers are meant to come in and choose what they want to rather than me telling them what to wear,’ asserts the designer. ‘The nouveau riche will wear necklaces with big chunky pieces that show. My customer has been there, done that,’ he further announces.

And he can afford to say that. Having opened India’s first up market boutique Ensemble in 1987, when fashion was still an alien word to most of India, Tahiliani has indeed come a long way.

Known for his love of Indian textiles, the designer is widely appreciated for the Western cuts and finish that he brings to Indian-wear. And the energy rush hasn’t ceased. Tahiliani will travel to Mumbai with his collection, gear up for the opening of his new store in Hyderabad in August, work on a ready-to-wear collection. Tahiliani also plans to work with Sambalpuri weavers next year [I have already spoken to the chief minister Navin Patnaik, he says] and experiment with tribal indigo dyes and Hyderabadi
bidri
work.

In between, the designer is also scouting for space to open a couture studio in the city and says he has plans to open one near the toll booths in Delhi Gurgaon expressway. ‘But corruption is taking a toll on everything. We need Anna Hazare,’ he fumes. The designer had also gone to Ramlila Maidan last year to support Hazare. ‘The crowds thought this designer has gone mad,’ he says, laughing.

So how does he think has the fashion industry changed over the years? ‘Earlier, there was better quality and finer things. Quality has suffered but the pricing is better,’ he says. But what he rues the most is the lack of camaraderie now. ‘It is much more cut throat and professional now,’ he laments.

The standard of style has gone down too. ‘It is like the actresses of today who need stylists tell them what to wear unlike earlier where they had their own sense of style. It’s all for the press,’ says Tahiliani.

And what is his legacy? ‘That I started the first fashion store and gave designers a platform to be themselves. It set up a wave of copies but that doesn’t matter,’ he says.

His advice to youngsters? ‘Use your heritage’.

He surely has mastered it.
Promita Mukherjee

Promita Mukherjee

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