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THE brief was clear. The Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces were keen to change the uniforms of their staff the world over with an emphasis on showcasing a modern India. It comes as no surprise that the hospitality group zeroed in on Delhi-based designer Payal Jain.
For Jain, who has togged various hospitality staff many times in the last two decades, this was an “exciting” challenge. “The uniforms had to have a strong sense of India yet not be folksy in their appearance,” says Jain, who put together a mood board to match. “The bigger challenge this time around was the fact that we were working with handloom fabrics; nearly 80 percent of the fabric used in the new uniforms has been especially woven for us in Banaras,” adds the designer.
The new design concept has been titled “Tajness” and to put together a look to reflect that, Jain admits she spent a couple of months on research and development. “We wanted to make it a CSR activity as well by involving the weavers. We got handloom designs and silk blends woven that would not only reflect the richness of Indian textiles but be practical to wear as well,” says Jain.
Keeping in mind a staff for various Taj properties, not just in India, Jain kept the silhouettes comfortable and emphasised on techniques instead. “I chose an earthy colour palette for the uniforms that have been highlighted with vibrant accessories like scarves, turbans, stoles and pocket squares. I didn’t want an over-the-top look,” she says.
Ditching the usual sari drapes, Jain has brought in long skirts, kurtis, salwars, waistcoats along with long sherwanis with structured bandhgalas and short kurtas and pyjamas for the men. “We have further accentuated the design by using various techniques like pin-tucking, quilting and Jamdani cutwork. The Indian booti and lotus design emerges strongly,” says Jain, adding how the uniforms not just drape well but are easy to maintain too.