The lights, the drama, and above all, the fabulous and scintillating fashion. The FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week took place last week, returning to a live showcase format in all its glory. Amongst the biggest names in the Indian fashion industry who showcased their collections at the Dhyan Chand Stadium in Delhi was ace designer Tarun Tahiliani, a force to be reckoned with in the world of bridal couture and wedding ensembles. This time around, Tarun showcased a modern, luxury prêt collection designed to cater to the global Indian consumer. Brides Today sat down with the designer to learn the inspiration behind his latest fashion offering and his unique vision for the modern Indian bride.
Brides Today: In your own words, share the inspiration behind your upcoming collection being showcased at FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week?
Tarun Tahiliani: Our luxury prêt collection Global Indian is a true representation of India's modern and global ethos wherein you can expect a new streamlined, sleek collection with modern cuts and details, unusual textures, prints, zari threads and resham. The concept of luxury pret has always been extremely close to my heart, and this is a collection that will speak to the future generations who have a more experimental approach, as it marries India’s beautiful crafts and heritage with comfort and accessibility.
There are many interesting pieces in this new collection with fabrics such as crinkled, tulles, poplins, lycra, sushi voile, some shaded georgette and heavy satin being used. We have exquisite mushroo woven in Banaras, and pashminas that are woven with a metallic thread more for use in saris, shawls and capes. We are experimenting and going ahead with a few of our older techniques such as Rangrez, where we now have the brocade strips that are handwoven for us, seamed on to gillets, trousers, cholis and in spite of being ready to wear pieces, are super luxe. We also have our foil jerseys and our prints. Mixed correctly, they result in a fabulous dressy ensemble, perfect for a mehendi or even a sangeet. The collection consists of separates that mix and match with each making it a truly luxe prêt offering.
BT: When did you first foray into the luxury prêt market? How has the response been so far?
TT: I believe I forayed into this market (which I absolutely love) when I did the Bhagalpur series of cotton outfits in the early 90s. It was truly a perfect example of luxury prêt as it used relatively inexpensive fabric. At the same time, it was luxury because of the way it was cut, detailed, pinned and fitted. The Bhagalpur’s were pared down monochromatic textures created in collaboration with Arshad Khan, who was absolutely brilliant, and with Ratnika Vyas.
Our next exploration with luxury prêt was in Milan in 2001 where the silhouettes adhered to a pared-down western shape, floating on Indian craft. This time around, our luxury prêt collection, Global Indian is a true representation of India modern and global.
BT: Who is the Tarun Taihliani customer?
TT: Anybody who has a sense of style and believes in the modernisation of India, along with wanting beautiful garments with a story attached to them is a target customer for us. My clientele extends from late teens to late 70s. In a nutshell, the target audience for the brand is everyone on the lookout for beautiful garment pieces.
BT: Are Indian brides and wedding guests still more focused on couture?
TT: The pandemic has led to the big Indian wedding becoming smaller and more intimate, and has brought about various changes in the bridal market and the fashion industry. Rather than following the trend of the season, Indian brides are now more focused on finesse, and on procuring an outfit that gives them a sense of comfort. They seem to be more confident and in tune with themselves, which in turn has provided them with a sense of empowerment and the courage to showcase their true individuality and style. Even their immediate families are following a similar mindset wherein they have forgone the anxiety of blending amongst a huge crowd of guests and now don pieces that are comfortable for them.
BT: How does it feel to be back with live shows vis-a -vis the digital medium?
: It is absolutely great to be back for a physical show after so long, and that too outdoors against the stunning backdrop of the Dhyan Chand stadium which is a beautiful building. We had live music, castanets and full scores being composed, with the entire area lit up and a little circle in the centre, around which the models walked. We hope that the show was something that moved you and spoke to you on various levels as it is was a high energy show.
BT: Over the years, what has been your most cherished memory of Fashion Week?
TT: My most cherished memory of Fashion Week has been the spirit of togetherness and camaraderie that existed in the early years. I suppose businesses were small, there was so much hope and there was such a fantastic feeling of togetherness, I really miss that and that energy. We got buyers from all over the Middle East and it really helped to push the Fashion industry into a very different phase. However, that fell apart, and we are limping back to something. We are not even close to pre-pandemic but at least the two fashion weeks are together and that is a huge achievement. I am so pleased to see this because it will only hurt the designers in the long run if everyone else is divisive.
BT: What do you envision as the future of Indian luxury prêt and Indian bridal couture, post the pandemic?
TT: If we talk about bridal couture, rather than following the trend of the season, brides have been focussing on comfort. They are more comfortable in their own skin and want to wear pieces that showcase their true personality and sartorial style, rather than succumbing to the notions of society. The lockdown forced us to face the harsh truth and understand the need for sustainable living and embrace it wholeheartedly. Therefore, rather than selecting an entire outfit, people are now leaning towards buying separates with greater wearability which can be worn in numerous ways and paired with different garments. Also, the importance of athleisure and comfortable fits is another factor that has emerged. All the big fashion houses will have to understand and pay heed to this new phenomenon and trend in the fashion world.
BT: You have always endeavoured to bring the work of Indian artisans to the forefront. Could you explain to our readers why this is important?
TT: It is this artisanal craftsmanship that makes us Indian designers what we are—from simple things like hand dying, shading, ombres, tie-and-dye, mukaish, all kinds of embroideries, block-printing and fabric treatments. This is our heritage, they existed long before any designer did. We were a textile industry and we designers for the most part are now taking these textiles and treating them in a contemporary way. Two great examples are Rajesh Pratap Singh or Anavila with her saris, and many more. However, everyone will have their own journey. I have realised and I have such gratitude for the craftsmen of India who have made me love this country. I watch with tears the patience and love they pour into their work. It's our heritage, and it made us always put them at the forefront. They are treated as artists and not workers.
BT: Three trends to know for the 2022 bride?
TT: : The first is the long, sheer veil which is a Tarun Tahiliani staple. Now people are on the lookout for veils with trails. The second trend that I have noticed is brides who opt for natural makeup, have their hair open and wear one piece of jewellery as opposed to the overkill that has happened so far. Brides are looking more and more like themselves, which is a beautiful trend. Another fun trend is that brides seem to be entering with their own baraats. I think there is an assertion of their own independence.
The designer chats with Brides Today about his foray into luxury prêt, his collection showcased at FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week, and the bridal trends to know in 2022.
Listen up, these beauty blunders will cost you big time—spot them and stop, pronto.