ACE designer Tarun Tahiliani has forged an impressive 25-year career that has seen him make a global mark on the world of fashion.
Ever since he founded his design studio in 1990, Tarun has become associated with refined luxury, textile detail, meticulous tailoring and designs that are Indian in their sensibility yet international in appeal.
His ability to combine historical opulence with contemporary chic has caught the eye of fashion lovers, famous celebrities and the media, who flock to see his creations.
That is why there will be a lot of excitement surrounding his latest collection, which will be unveiled at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show taking place in the Ballroom Suite at The Dorchester hotel in central London on Sunday (25).
EE caught up with Tarun in the lead up to the event, which will also be showcasing some of India’s finest design talent, to talk about his remarkable journey in fashion, inspirations, expectations, 2015 trends, and more.
How would you describe your fashion journey?
A journey of my love for everything visual.
Do you remember when you first became connected to fashion?
(Smiles) No I don’t, except for the fact that I always sketched. I sketched clothes, women, shoes, bags, men in processions; and when one does that, one necessarily has to dress them. They always seem to be pageants; it’s almost as if I always dressed people for the baraats, without even knowing consciously as a child in south Mumbai what a baraat was because that was a very uncommon phenomenon. So really my connect with fashion was an unconscious one.
How did the drawings lead to fashion?
I did a lot of drawings in high school for which I won the best artist prize. My serious connect started when I went to see a wonderful fashion shoot that my wife was doing at that time for Vimal with Rohit Khosla, where the idea of ‘Ensemble’ was born between the three of us, or really it was her idea.
Subsequently I saw my first fashion show with Pierre Cardin, which was mind blowingly beautiful in Mumbai. I couldn’t imagine that such a world existed of such exquisite proportion and finesse, and that’s when I knew I would work in fashion, even though I was already in another industry at the time.
Which of your many achievements are you most proud of?
I do not want to sit on my achievements. Achievements are milestones of the past and that’s really over. I’m always excited and looking forward to the future, and as I grow older, I work more for the love of doing something rather than ‘what it might achieve for me’.
You have reached the top. Do the sky-high expectations that surround your creations put pressure on you?
The top is a very relative thing. I put pressure on myself, and of course there is pressure in that I have to sustain a fairly sizeable industry that depends on me.
There is pressure with changing markets and changing notions of luxury, but that pressure is always an intellectual challenge that is rewarding when it works and pushes you back to the drawing board when it doesn’t. But like all things that need to be done at a certain level, you do it because you love it, and so the pressure keeps you connected.
How has your creative process evolved through the years?
The creative process has gone through many evolutions. In the beginning, because I never worked with anybody, it was just about individual drawi-ngs, then I understood the concept of a collection.
Now I have mood boardrooms where I have all the ideas that impact me at a particular space in time documented, so I can look at them constantly. Most importantly the creative process is cross-pollinating, so what I am doing in my carpet collection affects the prints that I design, and the prints that I design go into the flooring mosaics of the interiors that I am doing. It’s wonderful because in a way it becomes more and more holistic.
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
I draw my inspirations from life. I draw my inspirations for draping from the poorest of the poor in India that still roam around unconsciously with their nadas, bundis and their shawls because some of the forms that evolve out of that are way too exquisite for me to even describe.
Going to the Kumbh was for me like going to the World Cup for someone who is interested in soccer. Going to the Kumbh was like going to the most incredible drapes fest. All I did was ravenously take photographs that I will use a million times and revisit because every time I go back I see something new and different.
What can we expect from you in 2015?
We have developed a superb ready-to-wear collection for Spring Summer 2015, and the team is working on the Autumn Winter 15-16 range.
What has inspired your collection, which will be presented at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show?
My collection at Aashni + Co is an attempt to connect to south Asian brides living in the UK, another big market. I am impressed they have taken the initiative to do something on a professional scale, and I am happy to support it for a day.
What is the secret of a great collection?
For me, the luxury of fit and its connectivity to someone at a period of time. I think a beauty is a joy forever, but there are certain things that might work at a certain time and not at another time. And anyway as markets become more egalitarian and more people make money, for the first time, it’s not necessary that they understand luxury alone, but they want cheaper and better priced things. So the secret of a great collection is that it is cohesive and it moves you.
What will be the hottest trends of 2015?
I find trends moving in an anti-trend way. I’ve never personally lived by a trend, and for me a trend is, more and more in today’s world, that it is acceptable because of the diversity and eclecticism for people to define their own trend. So now even a sneaker or a t-shirt may be customised, and I hope we see more of this in fashion.
Which celebrities do you most enjoy creating outfits for?
My favourite, hot celebrities at the moment with attitude are Deepika Padukone and Shilpa Shetty because of the way they wear clothes so beautifully. Mehr Rampal and of course Katrina Kaif also. These girls really know how to walk their clothes.
Who do you think is the most stylish celebrity?
I don’t think there is any one. There are many as they wear things to suit their tastes. From the photographs I have seen, Angelina Jolie tops the list in her new-found elegance and understated sophistication.
The Aashni + Co Wedding Show is Sunday (25) at Dorchester Hotel. The event will present creations from designers including Anamika Khanna, Manish Malhotra, Monisha Thahryamal and more. Log onto www.aash niandco.com and www.wslondon.com for more.