Tarun Tahiliani Curated
Indian Fashion Designer
CURATED BY :
Why do you think it’s important to be yourself on your big day?
What fits Katrina or Deepika's 5ft7" zero size bodies are not good for every bride. It's indeed a stern message for those wishing to replicate their favourite star's look for their own special day. Make sure you work your designer. Ensure the designer creates for you, something which represents and enhances YOU. So it's all about being body positive, being yourself and most importantly looking the best you can on your D-Day.
Today every bride wants to don a designer gown for her wedding and most often than not Bollywood is a huge inspiration when it comes to what a bride would like to wear.What do you think about this?
I am flattered that most young brides want to be seen in a Tarun Tahiliani. We started our occasion wear lines to reach out to even more brides, grooms and bridesmaids. In a country, where we have very few icons from society, sports, media in the spotlight, it is but natural that Bollywood becomes our influencer.
What’s the first bit of advice you’d give brides-to-be coming to your event?
The best bridal dress, would be a mirror to your dreams, desires and most importantly, your persona. BE YOURSELF, don't go like a someone being caparisoned off. It is not how many kilos of embroidery you have on your garment; it is how beautifully fit your garment is. Choose the colours well. Select stylish silhouettes.
Over the years do you find a difference in the expectations from a bridal designer?
Today, brides are more open to experimentation with cuts and colours on their D-day. Destination wedding on an exotic island or beach, dramatically impacts their dress choices. Brides opt for lighter, fresher, featherweight fabrics, in aquatic or sunset shade. If Udaipur or Jodhpur, is destination select, then brides reflect the regal grandeur of Royal Rajasthan with heavy embellishments, traditional silhouettes and big jewels.
Based on your experience what does it take for an Indian designer to make it big in the West?
Today the West is looking at India as a market. There are several challenges in the Western Design Wear Industry. I don't recommend any designer should leave home ground and head West, at a time when everyone in the West is heading East. Serve your market honestly, serve our natural extension markets - like Dubai. What do we have to sell to Italians in winter?
What drives you to design today – is it different from how it was when you started out in this field?
What keeps me motivated today is my pure love of design. I get up and I am thinking about it and that's all I want to consume my life with. It's unfortunately, also, what became a giant self-indulgence, so now we are a little more careful to balance commercial considerations with my love of design.
Do clothes make a man or is it a man’s innate style that makes the clothes stand out?
Style is all about the person, and the personality. It is about individuality. As we are crossing borders and moving towards global fashion we are looking at comfort, lightness and structure rather than heavily embellished outfits that inhibit movement in this fast-paced age.
Why would you wear a copy if you can afford the real thing?
This sort of blatant replications affects designers both in terms of money and is an infringement on your creativity. Unfortunately in India there seems to be no value for intellectual property rights and I suppose that is great luxury in a country that is this poor, but having said that, this kind of duplication of bad quality speaks volumes to me as an individual. Firstly, let me say this, that people who value quality and originality would never buy a copy. However, that is a very small minority of people in Delhi and surprisingly there are people with vast amounts of money and inordinate wealth who still go for the copy, which I don't understand. To me it is a reflection that they don't value themselves. Why would you wear a copy and not the real thing if you can afford it? The real thing has a name because of what they have done and therefore there is an expertise - a Chanel jacket shoulder is a Chanel jacket shoulder, you may choose to wear a similar design from a brand that does fast fashion, but it is never going to feel the same as a Chanel. So, it tells me that if you wear copies you either don't value yourself or that there is some problem, particularly if you can afford it, but if you can't then it is different. So, of course, there is a financial consequence of people wearing copies but for me the much greater danger is and I have seen it with my own eyes, when people look at someone wearing a copy and they are unable to tell because they are not conversant enough with the product, that it is a copy and therefore they start thinking that a bad quality copy is the original - to me that affects our reputation; that affects the kind of power that the brand might have or the perception of the brand and to me that is a much, much more dangerous consequence in the long run. Obviously, we do different things to counter it. One is our fit, which is very difficult to copy; we also do a lot of layering in the processes, which most copiers would not even understand. We employ little techniques so that people in the know will know it is the real thing and will also know when it is not.
Name the young or upcoming designer whose work excites you?
Arjun Saluja. His work is so clean, modern, sexy and consistent.
Site one fashion solution you wish you’d invented.
The use of lycra in everything.
The artist whose work you find most inspiring and why ?
I love Sakti Burman, Lucian Freud's portraits, David Hockney for collages, Georgio O’Keefe’s flowers and V.S. Gaitonde’s abstracts.
According to you which one is the most fashionable destination in the world and why?
Rome, as the people are naturally sexy and rooted in their culture
The fashion myth you’re happy to have busted?
That you have to wear physically heavy clothes to look grand. I think we have busted that myth.
Is the Indian fashion industry all about style and no substance?
There was a time when Indian fashion was hip and hollow and there was no substance in terms of business, no hype. But there has been an infrastructure change over the years. Back in the day, we didn't have any definitive benchmark to measure. But today, times have changed. In fact, many designers are now launching a secondary line priced between Rs 1,200 and Rs 5,500.
Are Indian designers an inaccessible bunch of people?
Well, designers are a hardworking lot. The Indian designer struggles to get international in terms of cuts and the construction. Unlike our western counterparts, we have to make everything ourselves, in-house. You can survive in this industry only if you love it.
Has the individual designer benefited from the switch in sponsorship from Lakme to Wills Lifestyle?
Before anything, we must know that we have had over six years of experience with the fashion weeks. We didn't dump Lakme. There were three other pitches before Wills Lifestyle came on board. It was purely a financial reason as to why we have Wills as a sponsor now.
Does FDCI give more preference to the international buyer?
It's not that. It's just that as designers, we have been in partnerships with established clients. Now we just want to push in the right direction. This is also the first time that we are showing a spring-summer line, which will work well, businesswise. By the time the buyers came here they had no budgets to spend, but with this WIFW placed ahead of international weeks buyers can at least check out what they want here.
Who do you cater to-the Indian or the international buyer?
Unfortunately, it's for the foreign buyer, except for my new TT line that I have designed for this spring-summer line, which is designed for the modern Indian woman.
Initially, there was lots of criticism that you were repeating yourself. How did you feel and cope up?
It's tough to be objective about yourself. But I think I was trying to cater to every buyers' need and was trying to balance the media on the other hand as well. But I think, it's all about editing, keeping it short, spunky.
We have four fashion weeks a year but do we have enough retail outlets to stock designer wear?
It's not fair to compare the Lakme Fashion Week and the WIFW. The more serious of the two has already been established to be WIFW and that is evident in the migration pattern of designers deciding to showcase their work in Delhi. We should now explore a menswear fashion week or a couture fashion week to develop new aspects of our industry.
What’s your creative idea this season?
I have gone back to draping, in muslin. You can take the simplest fabric and not embellish it and still make it divine, grand and a piece of art.
Over 25 years of swatches, sketches, mannequins and the runway. What stands out from this journey?
I think fashion is also about a deep engagement with the time and tide we live in. I am particularly anxious about trying to keep our Indian-ness because when we are westernised, it is perceived as a higher value, and we have got to change that. We have got to own our Indian-ness. Nothing stands out more than to say you’ve got to just keep swimming upstream with your convictions like the salmon going upstream; might seem suicidal but in a way, there is nothing else you can do.
Do comment on others hijacking your idea of India Modern?
Nobody owns the paisley, nobody owns the maang tikka and nobody owns India Modern. Everyone has their own interpretation for lack of a better terminology, or for the fact that it is such a good term. Everybody is free to define what they think India Modern is. As long as it is done properly it is terrific!
The challenges of attempting a synthesis of different cultures today.
The challenge is there is too much sensory overload and everybody is in some bewildered mix because as we have more urbanisation, single unit homes, single children and both parents working, there is very little time to transmit culture. Popular culture comes over phones, television and the internet and it is anyone’s guess who is watching what. There is also no censorship, which used to be there earlier so people’s minds are often unhinged. In this context, to keep harping on India may sound didactic, but it is what it is.
What went into creating your archive at the atelier?
We started organising it a few years back. We’ve always stored swatches and sketches. It is an impressive body to look at and I can assure you we have lost at least 15% of our very good quality swatches because embroiderers would take them and not return them. Now we do not allow anything out of the factory. It is a great thing for embroiderers or younger designers to look at. Like the brands abroad, if this brand has to survive, a strong archive is a necessity.
Plans for both Jamdani and New Brocade?
We work with wonderful people in West Bengal who are doing [Jamdani]. They are simple designs, so that the motifs that are used in chikankari are used in jamdani. I am dying to see jamdani with chikankari. Also, finally I have that softness and the dullness I like in our brocades. I hope to see them in every possible form. Some of the brocades I have seen people wear at their weddings... OMG, I am shocked to see that people like to wear something that garish!
If 2018 was a year of disquiet for you, what is 2020 shaping up to be?
Mad recession, crazy disquiet on internal dissent and now the [Covid-19] virus. I just have to roll with the punches.