Heritage,Bling,Fuss and Shape


Heritage, Bling, Fuss and Shape

Designer Tarun Tahiliani’s annual bridal exposition currently on view in Delhi will travel to other cities this year. The collection etches the face of the contemporary bridal market where Indian couture must blend craft traditions with form-fitted western constructs

Nude and gold,tulle and resham,ivory and polki are romantic tendrils that sprout from what we merrily call preparations for an Indian wedding. The time when families become taut with traditions and fabrics fluid with the promise the occasion lends to a bride and groom. Remember the time when grooms used to sit in three piece Raymond suits cross-legged on the floor for wedding rituals and brides would pull the pallus of their Benarasis over their heads? “They looked deranged,” says Tarun Tahiliani,humour sneaking up as he talks about contemporary couture. This was two days ago at an elegant cocktail evening to preview his Bridal Exposition 2011 at Emporio Mall. Tahiliani has resisted a fashion show and instead shown his collection like works of art worn by mannequins that seem to chase a life of Botox and hair colour. “This way you can touch and feel my clothes,” says TT slowly but surely,learning to take a backseat while his clothes do the talking. The collection,stunning in parts and predictable in others,talks loudly. Also because he has toned the noise down by bringing a muted sheen to couture. The shade card oscillates from bridal red to black for the groom and then becomes a dull rose,a deep gold,an intense ivory,a champagne. Put this champagne on rocks and the rose becomes a diaphanous,seductive maroon. “Luxury is inside,never outside,the true buyer of couture understands that,only the nouveau riche want clothes to scream,” he says adding how men have become experimental despite remaining focused buyers of couture.

TT’s comments can hardly be brushed away,he was around after all,dressing up ten odd people from the Jet Set South Bombay crowd more than two decades ago. Then South Bombay became South Mumbai,the ten odd Jet Set became ten thousand and Tahiliani continued to craft and design,creating dreams out of georgettes and Swarovski crystals,converting Lucknawi chikankari into a bride’s D-day memoir. The market changed yet again? South Mumbai is now SoBo.

Saris have morphed into elaborate gown-like lehengas; kurtas into fitted bodices,blouses into backless cholis; men’s suits into sherwanis; dupattas never-ending swirls of embroidered lace. TT is both a player and a spectator as the bridal market has inflated. His fitted Italian style jacket draped as a choli with a plunging neckline at the back and worn with a sari is a metaphor of what we now make of couture. Jean Paul Gaultier meets Ellie Saab. “We grew 35 per cent from 2009-2010,but from 2010-2011 we have grown by 50 per cent,” he says. The TT empire,thanks primarily to couture,has grown 10 times in 10 years.

If the weight of earnings has changed,so has the shape of couture. “I want to keep up with the changing needs of the market,” he says pointing to form-fitted lehengas,sexy bustiers,blink and you will miss the underlinings beneath finely constructed garments. Everything is shapely,western,global,sexy,silhouetted. Interruptions to this dialogue abound. Tahiliani is talking to three clients from some of India’s most-known families who would be flying in tomorrow for a “personal consultation”. Next moment,there is a rushed request: someone from his team has to be flown to Chennai,a client wants urgent fittings. “Around 800 people work with me,I need more who can fly to a client as and when they wish. That’s luxury,” he says,dialling a number.

The Bridal Exposition will show in Mumbai on July 23 and 24 at the Four Seasons Hotel,in Hyderabad on August 6 and 7 at The Park,and in Kolkata on August 20 and 21 at The Park.