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Tarun Tahiliani marks 25 years: The ace designer on his most memorable show and what continues to inspire him

Tahiliani firmly believes that if someone wants to be a part of this journey, they have to believe it is more than just a job and allow themselves to be consumed by the entire process of the same.

Written by Shambhavi Dutta | New Delhi |
Updated: September 13, 2020 3:19:39 pm
The designer believes that this is just the beginning. (Photo: PR Handout/ Designed by Gargi Singh)

Tarun Tahliani, fondly called TT, is a name synonymous with modern Indian fashion. With a career spanning 25 years, the designer’s creative consciousness has only evolved with time, adapting itself to the latest trends. “Twenty-five years, for me, is encouraging — the past and the part of the journey that got me here, and mixing it with techniques that allow me to tell a story that’s exciting and abstract in nature,” said the designer. However, he believes that it is just the beginning. “We have just got started and there’s so much I have to learn and do!” said Tahiliani, who recently showcased some of his best works at the first-ever digital Blenders Pride Fashion Tour.

Replete with grandeur and opulence, the show — INFINTE– saw 25 models representing his equal number of years in the industry, celebrating him on a larger-than-life set. In an interview with the indianexpress.com, the designer gives a peek into his future plans and tells how there is more to the industry than just glamour.

The digital show witnessed 25 designs from his bestselling collection, many reworked to showcase the idea of modern Indian fashion.

Excerpts from the interview:

In these 25 years in the fashion industry, which has been your most memorable show? 

We have had many memorable fashion shows, but the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour held at the Garden of Five Senses and the one held on the beach where a cloudburst took place right after the show ended are some of the memorable ones. There are so many shows we have done, most of them featuring theatre and music, it is an immersive experience, to say the least.

Is there one incident or instance that has continued to inspire you through the years?

The instance that has inspired me relates to an event that took place years ago. I had gone to Ahmedabad to meet a particular family in their own family home which was later converted into a museum, now known as the Calico Museum of Textile. As I walked into the retreat I witnessed old Indian culture — Gujarati-speaking people talk about the most progressive ideas. For me that was a Eureka moment, I saw this fantastic amalgamation of Indian culture and the contemporary world. Everything co-exists when you are true to yourself and its a visceral motion. The whole move towards Indian modern, I saw it in a flash and the moment was perfectly in place.

“You will only survive this place if you love to come to it every day and push your own vision” shares Tahiliani.

From here on, is there anything you would like to change about your work? 

I think I could be much more organised. As markets evolve, you have got to be a little more market-centric in many ways. That is one thing that would definitely help. Apart from that, I think I am in a very good space. I love the creative buzz, except I wish I was more involved in the business or had a great business partner because most successful designers do have one. I am hopeful that too will happen someday, finding the ying to my yang! 

What are your go-to fabrics or silhouettes?

Fashion has changed quite a bit since the time we started. And at the time we did these simpler western silhouettes, there was very little competition. There weren’t big brands selling things cheap here to all over the world, that has changed fashion. Moreover, Indians didn’t travel so much, and when they travel, they shop a lot. By definition, we had to become more ‘dressy’ and make designs they wouldn’t get anywhere else.

For me, I have always loved the way Indians have draped fabrics on themselves. Everyone thinks about colour and embroidery, sure that is there, but underneath, every individual – like a thumbprint – looks different even if they wear an identical sari. For example, when you wear a similar dress from Prada, it ends up looking similar because they are cut in a certain way, but when you drape (a sari) it takes the shape of your body and your wrap caresses you, falling differently. That is truly the genius of Indian fashion and tradition, the drape tradition like how Romans wore the Toga. 

READ| Post-pandemic, people will wear wedding couture but will ensure they reuse: Tarun Tahiliani

On what basis were the 25 pieces selected for the show? What significance do they hold?

We didn’t want to showcase bridal, we just wanted to show modern Indian fashion and I wanted to choose designs that used the best techniques we represent in our studio. So we had amazing drapes at the beginning, including construction, some of our bestselling embroideries reworked on chiffon jumpsuits. We wanted to showcase vibrant Indian colours and a lot of brocade. We brought so much from our past, like reviving 18-year old T-shirts. Bringing both contemporary and Mughals into perspective, we designed embroidered tights clad with transparent tulle skirts, exactly how the Mughal miniatures showcased or chikankari in the form of a pantsuit. 

“Fashion has changed quite a bit since the time we started” believes Tahiliani.

READ| Tech, newer platforms, reinventing: How designers plan to weather pandemic and beyond

The one thing you would like to tell the future generations? 

People watch ramps, fashion shows and actors clad in intricate designs thinking it is all glamorous. But, in reality, after a point that is exactly what becomes tedious. You will only survive this place if you love to come to it every day and push your own vision. There’s so much that goes into it right from manufacturing to making sure the designs reach the store and everything else in between.

The point is if you cannot do everything then don’t do it all or be clear about what you want to do and be content with that. Most of all, understand what the journey involves. If you don’t love every part of the journey, you will never get to the end. There’s no end anyway but you have to love it hard, be obsessive because it will consume you and, you have to allow that belief that it’s not a job but rather it is joy. It is a tough industry and you better be aware of it.  

Here are some of the iconic pieces showcased at INFINTE

Blenders Pride Fashion Tour X Tarun Tahiliani Blenders Pride Fashion Tour X Tarun Tahiliani Blenders Pride Fashion Tour X Tarun Tahiliani Blenders Pride Fashion Tour X Tarun Tahiliani

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