July 29, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

The Admiral’s Son

Weightless is the new language of instruction, as couture swings in the direction of opulence minus cult musings, power posing, flurry of feathers or inventive iterations, just mixing craftsmanship with a Tarun Tahiliani brand of realism  

By Asmita Aggarwal

There is an unspoken, invisible bond that Tina and Tarun Tahiliani share, as more than a brother the latter served as a mentor, guide and parent after their mother passed away. That’s why the loudest applause in the room when TT showcases is always from his sibling, whom he also started a business venture with more than two decades ago, Ensemble.

Wharton-educated Tarun is no novice in the turbulent business of fashion, he has seen volatile ups and downs and has learnt to adjust his sails so that the boat doesn’t capsize (he has been in a real shipwreck too, and he survived, and today can look back on the experience with some pungent humour). This survival instinct is what makes him a winner, as Albert Camus had said in the Nobel award-winning book, The Stranger, “in the depth of winter, I realised, within me, lay an invincible summer”. It is this summer of celebrations that TT is paying homage to with his ideology “India Modern”, with an 80-piece showcasing at the India Couture Week, giving the seven-day spectacle a befitting end.

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No one understands the language of embroideries better than Tarun, who after finishing a degree in finance, moved to design, and looked at drapes as his medium of communication. Even though he presented among friends and devotees on a wet Sunday evening at ICW there are times when he doesn’t have such a doting audience, case in point, the India International Centre. A place of intellectual and academicians, IIC where Tarun held a talk recently saw a half-empty hall, but that didn’t deter him, he explained with the same passion, his journey, textiles and their relevance in contemporary times. And joked later about how this had happened to him once before when he tried to educate “non-fashion folks”.

At the historic Bikaner House designed by Charles M. Blomfield, Tarun let loose an army of bling, with Swarovski spearheading it, as belts cinching the waists made a grand entry. Crystal, studded, coloured and pearl-encrusted, they marched in various avatars. His iridescent colours, shaded sequins, beaded tassels, everything was dipped in his love for opulence, the same aesthetic can be seen in his home, which is peppered with his own paintings, imposing like the man himself.

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Titled “Bloom”, his collection witnessed an ode to the austere Chikankari, elevated with mirror work, imbued with the spirit of taking elements from ready-to-wear and creating a couture palate from it. Roomy shararas in buttery whites, embroidered capes which sparkled in the light, Kanjeevarams, and men in silk frocks complete with safas as well as rolled-up pants, brocade shoes, were TT’s robust take on extravagance. As his intricate embroideries inspired by Mughal architecture reminiscent of sand, castles, and dunes, took centre stage; reds which everyone thought had moved on to the backs of both wardrobes and bride’s minds, have now emerged, this year, as the biggest trousseau toppers.

 And what better to say farewell with a dress in progress, complete with veil, and a model bearing a sign “the show stops after”, to keep the focus on the man-hours spent on creating an artisanal piece which will be worn for generations, rather than a beautiful face that will delight a contingent of lensmen for a moment of glory and soon fade into the recesses of memory.

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