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Tarun Tahiliani's 25 Years in a Live, Digital Fashion Showcase

The master couturier talks to Cosmo India about his journey and how his latest collection celebrates his interpretation of India

Master couturier, Tarun Tahiliani presented his couture show online on his Instagram handle on September 10, at 8pm. The show, presented in collaboration with Blenders Pride was a two-way milestone. It was a celebration of Tarun’s 25 years in the fashion industry and marked Blenders Pride Fashion Tour's first-ever digital premiere. The collection titled "Infinite", touched upon the theme "My Identity, My Pride" and had 25 models walk down the ramp. 

The collection that included occasion as well as traditional wear had the signature structured silhouettes with fluid drapes and intricate embroideries like Chikankari, Ari and Dapka studded with Swarovski crystals. Organza, tulle, chiffon and silk fabrics in a palette ranging from lilac, rose, vibrant reds and fuchsia to paler tones like beige, gold and ivory were reminiscent of opulent evening gatherings at aristocratic Indian homes. The delicate gowns and the sharply tailored pant suits adorned with subtle embroidery, served as a modern canvas to traditional India. The clothes perfectly fused the old with the new, a trait the couturier is known for. 

Tarun Tahiliani

The digital streaming of the fashion showcase was termed as a ‘stream of consciousness’ video by Tarun. Rightly so, the backdrop engaged the viewers with questions about identity, existence and evolution that usually plays on our sub-conscious mind. While some questions appeared in a written format on the backdrop, others were posed in Tarun’s voiceover. Also, unlike a physical fashion show, the digital presentation beautifully  captured the minute details of the clothes as the cameras zoomed in from different angles. A high-angle shot beautifully recorded the movement of the clothes as models moved and twirled on the ramp. The show aptly encapsulated the designer’s interpretation of his “pride and identity”. 

Cosmo India caught up with the couturier to find out about his inspiration behind the collection and his journey so far. Given below are excerpts from the interview.   

Cosmo India: Tell us about the idea behind the theme “My Identity, My Pride”

Tarun Tahiliani: “We (Tarun Tahiliani) are celebrating 25 years and this is a milestone. I grew up in South Mumbai and through fashion I discovered this whole new India that I did not know about. It was different from South Bombay urban life. I worked with craftsmen, and I drove around and learnt about traditional India. And in the course of my travelling around, I found the most beautiful thing, which was the way people draped fabric over themselves. We do not have the ability to do that with western clothes. I want to keep that drape tradition alive with the kind of clothes that I make. So, this wandering and walking around gave me a sense of identity and pride in what this country has, and I bring that to the show."

tarun

Cosmo India: How does the collection represent the essence of your 25 years in the fashion industry?

TT: “The collection showcases the different things that have come to symbolise us (TT). So, we have Chikankari, we have a lot of draping and fluting. We have used the sari as a point of departure—the pleats in front, and some asymmetry. Since I grew up watching the sari, I still find that exclusive and since many young women don't wear sari today, we thought that we will make clothes that take universal inspiration from this country. These are the techniques that we have developed and worked with, understood and tried to master. And more than that, I wanted to reflect a modern India. I don’t like the idea of India where people are either overtly western or overtly Indian.”

Cosmo India: When you look back over this quarter of a century, what really stands out?

TT: “The most outstanding thing is the love I developed for this country. And the fact that I am still excited to come every day to work. When we started, there wasn’t really a retail system or a major fashion system, it was still a tailoring business. I had to learn fashion, I had to learn embroidery. We now run all our stores. We’ve got social media. The story that we want to tell is imagined much more strongly now. And that’s what is exciting for me.” 

Cosmo India: How was the experience of collaborating with Blenders Pride Fashion Tour? 

TT: “It was a superb experience. We were supposed to do this big show as a part of Blenders Pride Fashion Tour in Mumbai in July, which we couldn’t do. The Blenders Pride team went out of their way to make things happen. I think it was also coincidental that at the end of the lockdown, most people were excited to be back and working, from the models to the choreographer. It was Aparna Behl who floated this idea. Everyone from the stylist to the music and graphics people, put in their best.” 

Tarun Tahiliani

Cosmo India: How do you think fashion has evolved over the last 25 years?

TT: “Fashion has evolved a great deal over the last 25 years. Because 30 years back, everyone would mostly go to tailors. Men had some readymade shops, but it was just a fabric-based society, people got their clothes made, and the boutiques started. The designers came in later, and then the corporations came and they took it to another level. So we’ve grown into this giant market, although you can still buy textiles. Almost nobody I know goes to tailors anymore to get things made, at least in urban India. They want things that are ready. So it's an extravagant affair now. Economic progress, Bollywood, globalisation, physicality, consciousness, everything has impacted the way people dress now.”

Cosmo India: What’s next for you? 

TT: “The whole landscape has changed and the change has been a positive one. And I hope in the future, we will put to use what the pandemic has taught us. We need to pull back, clamp down the brakes, slow it down a bit, reassess what we are doing and why. We need to introspect, and that will determine the way forward for all of us.”