by MITA MISTRY

DESIGN GREAT TARUN TAHILIANI TALKS FASHION AND WEDDING WEAR

ACE designer Tarun Tahiliani has been a leading light in Indian fashion for decades and showed he has lost none of his sparkle at two recent high-profile events in differ­ent corners of the world.  

He showcased his latest bridal creations at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show in London and a few weeks later lit up the catwalk in Mumbai at Lakme Fashion Week summer-re­sort 2018 show.  

Eastern Eye caught up with Tahiliani at Somerset House in London to talk all things fashion and then got to see his latest collection on the catwalk in Mumbai shortly after.  

The first thing apparent about the established stalwart is he has lost none of his passion after all these years and his creations on display at the wedding show are still of a very high standard. Although he draws inspirations from Indian culture including paintings, miniatures and textiles, today Tahiliani is looking to make designs that have global appeal.  

“Currently I am working on making garments light and weightless, so they are Indian but versatile to be worn for anything from weddings, black tie events to a garden party. An actress (Sonam Kapoor) wore this sari blouse to a wed­ding (points to one) and then with jeans to a club because it looked amazing, and why not? Who says you must wear it with a lengha,” said Tahiliani.  

The exquisite bridal-wear on display at Aashni + Co Wed­ding Show have that global appeal and are aimed at the mod­ern-day woman. He thinks the trends are shifting from be­ing traditional to something he describes as fresher, with nudes, peaches and contemporary colours being dominant.  

“Even in India, girls are preferring more contemporary styles nowadays and are not wearing salwar kameez with prints anymore. You see, the traditional thing is going too far and now the looks are fresher. There is no reason to look like your grandmother. Lightness is the way forward.  

“There are people who can carry off red, but if you are wearing a red outfit you don’t need to wear bright red lip­stick. Paler outfits for summer garden weddings can still be traditional with their design and embellishment.”  

With no plans to rest on his laurels, the designer is ex­panding his impressive empire with more factories and stores. He is also on a mission to make women feel more comfortable in their own skin.  

“I feel there is too much pressure on women to be some­thing they are not. Even our Indian magazines are airbrush­ing too much of what real Indian women are like. If a wom­an has a bust or hips, that is her shape and it is sexy. She does not need to be thin to be beautiful or accepted.  

“The fake beauty in the press and magazines, which is air­brushed, is making a lot of beautiful Indian women feel inad­equate and it’s not cool. I once dressed Oprah Winfrey; she was sexy, voluptuous and fun. We need to see more of this confidence from all sized women on this planet,” he said.  

The big aspiration Tahiliani has is to expand the global reach of his brand and make it more accessible, including in the Islamic world. He also wants to reach non-Asians and show the amazing craftsmanship that exists in India.  

“All our beading work is done in India, and let’s face it no one can bead like the Indians. Valentino is the only brand that bead garments abroad because it’s very fine. Some of those techniques are also used by Dior. Ellie Saab also have beautiful beaded garments, all of which is all done in India.  

“Still what we Indians do is different and nobody else does it. So we need a contemporary voice for it, like a new voice for tradition, and that’s how we see our brand, renewing tradition.”  

When asked what advice he would give young upcoming designers, the fashion geni­us said: “You have to do it because you love it. Don’t think it’s glamorous. It’s hard work every day and it gets harder because there is a lot of copying, so you have to be work­ing all the time.”  

After a successful showcase in London, Tahiliani headed back to India for a high-pro­file fashion show at the Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018 show in Mumbai, which had Bollywood actress Kriti Sanon as his show­stopper. His celestial collection, which took its inspiration from the Milky Way and constellations, saw the designer ditch heavier fabrics for light layers and gossamer garments. The weightless fashion exuded ro­mance, fantasy florals and the cosmic stars.  

What the London and Mumbai showcases demonstrated is that Tarun Tahiliani remains a torchbearer who is lighting the way for others.