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April 20, 2024

Tarun Tahiliani: Bridal clothes need to be wearable and re-loved

Schenelle Dsouza 
Veteran designer Tarun Tahiliani opened his new flagship boutique in Mumbai on April 22. Located in Mumbai’s historic Renaissance-style district of Ballard Estate, the new store replaces the designer’s previous Mumbai store in Colaba.  
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
A 7,000 sq. ft. space, the new Tarun Tahiliani flagship boutique sits inside Dubash house. The entire store has been conceptualised and worked on in collaboration with Divya Thakur of Design Temple in Mumbai. 
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
The store features an entire range of Tarun Tahiliani products for both men and women, from couture and ready-to-wear collections to occasion wear, along with a wholesome collection of jewellery and accessories. Telling us more about his new flagship boutique, Tarun Tahiliani spoke to LuxeBook about his design philosophy, his views on Indian bridal wear and more.   
Tell us more about your India Modern design philosophy that inspired the latest collection? 
The ‘India Modern’ design ethos straddles the present whilst being rooted in India’s heritage of draped form and the tradition of artistry. These quintessential techniques of craftsmanship, imbibed with love across generations are made globally astute through the cut, construct and finish of our silhouettes. Each creation exemplifies the guiding philosophy – ‘all that we were and more’.
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
Across couture, occasion-wear and ready-to-wear, the studio creates unique combinations of historical opulence and contemporary chic through the fine crafts and textiles of India. These richly detailed, structured drapes lend an edge to the modern, global Indian. 
How does your new flagship store encapsulate that philosophy, considering it is said to be a tribute to your signature ‘India Modern’ design philosophy?  
A tribute to our signature ‘India Modern’ design philosophy, the new flagship store in Mumbai is located on what is arguably one of the most exquisite streets of the city; lined with imposing brownstone buildings that lend to a storied atmosphere of history and design. The new boutique takes patrons on a journey from the traditional to the contemporary through a specially designed ‘Library of Time’, displaying the seamless magic of the finest age-old techniques of embroidery and weaving, the latest technology, and the highest standards of fit and style, all of which come together to perfectly capture our aesthetic in a new avatar.  
It was clear that our new home in Bombay would need to exemplify everything that my studio has stood for. The new boutique pays homage to the foundations of my brand. It is spacious, modern and lovingly handcrafted with some of the finest work in Indian interiors and craft. It showcases our diverse range of luxury offerings, and as always, will be firmly rooted in the hospitality and service of our dedicated team. 
It is not just a store, it’s what I hope to be a place where people can savour our ‘India Modern’ offering.
What was the main idea behind designing the Mumbai store? How is the new Mumbai store different from other Tarun Tahiliani flagship stores in the country?  
After seeing the success of the Delhi flagship store, we realised that the existing space we had in Bombay was far too cramped for our needs. Additionally, having a separate couture studio was also not ideal because it just killed the overall energy and inhibited easy access to samples. We had been looking for a new space for a while and we found nothing that worked in terms of the experience that we wanted to create. 
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
All of us who grew up in South Bombay were used to 13-18 feet ceilings at our home, where the grandeur and graciousness came from the sheer volume of space, rather than super-expensive decorations.
It bears resemblance to other Tarun Tahiliani stores in which we have used jaalis and Indian stone in beautiful tones of beige. However, the sheer volume of the space allowed for something quite different. Just the fact that we had exclusive spaces to house particular collections, made a difference in the ambience and the world you got swallowed into when you went from room-to-room. Luxury is all about space and the architecture had the bones and volume to allow that. 
Our aesthetic is always refinement of ‘India Modern’ and all the materials and various finishes used in the store are of Indian origin and represent great Indian workmanship; from the bone inlay to mother-of-pearl, the jaalis and the hand-cut glass columns, which are a new addition. 
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
I love the mother-of-pearl inlay, fine jaalis, exquisite bone inlay cabinets, and the carpets that have been specially designed for us by Obeetee Carpets; and the silk rice-paper wallpaper. I would say that these are some of the notable things, aside from the embroidered panels, which are all over the store – from the Pichwai Collection to Mata ni Pachedis that we have sourced and embroidered over. 
Can you tell us about the unique Library of Time inside your new store? How does it capture Tarun Tahiliani’s signature aesthetic? 
The ‘Library of Time’ is still an idea that is evolving. It is a long connecting passage between the ready-to-wear section of the store and the bridal boutique. We thought that since people are going to traverse through the space, it should always have interesting objects and design elements, such as the Rehal stands that we have used to display albums from different collections.
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
Tarun Tahiliani Flagship Store, Mumbai
The ‘Library of Time’ is just a space that will constantly show items from our archives, as well as occasional catalogues and albums of the work that the studio has done or is revisiting. It will have swatches; these little dioramas made like David Hockney sets that showcase various collections and will be a constantly evolving and sumptuous peek into different inspirations that the studio has relied on. 
How did you settle upon Ballard Estate as the location for your boutique? 
I’d been shown 2-3 spaces in Ballard Estate and when I actually went there to walk around, I was thunderstruck because I didn’t know the area that well. Some of the lobbies in those buildings were like ballrooms and I said to myself, “Oh, my God! This is spectacular”.  And then I was hell-bent on finding a space in Ballard Estate itself. 
The property actually itself took a long time to materialise because it was rented in 2-3 different clusters and had been so overbuilt that it didn’t really allow us to understand what the potential was. But once we saw the plans, we knew exactly what was possible and we worked around its bones. 
‘Sustainability for me means reuse and rewear’ something you have said in the past. How do you incorporate the principles of sustainability in your designs? 
Sustainability usually had to do with the fabrics, but beautifully made clothes are usually worn for much longer; if they have a timeless style and/or if people are taught how to break up wedding garments to create multiple looks, there is a lot of value in that. Therefore, by default you become sustainable.  
A lot of people come to me and say that they have pulled out some of my garments that they purchased 20 years back and because of the quality and timelessness, they can cherish them and wear them even today.  
I think that we should take a different approach instead of fast fashion that not only helps the craft but also sustains communities, and ultimately sustains the planet. 
You’ve often spoken about Indian couture being associated with weddings. Do you think this culture has evolved at all over the years? How so? 
Weddings in India include a black-tie event, the museum opening, the gala, the cocktail, the sangeet, etc. We have amalgamated ways of dressing for events from all over the world and introduced them into the Indian wedding. 
 Tarun Tahiliani
Photo Courtesy: Tarun Tahiliani
This is because, as English speakers in India, we travel between multiple cultures and have a huge tradition of celebration and hospitality. Hence, couture is the natural association for Indian weddings, and this can be seen all around the world. I see this association as a good thing as it has given rise to fantastic design and beautiful things. 
What is your opinion on bridal wear in India? What is one bridal trend you would like to initiate for 2022? 
The one bridal trend that I would like to initiate, which I have been talking about for a long time, is that bridal clothes, however beautiful, should be wearable so that they can be loved and re-loved. 
Tarun Tahiliani
Tarun Tahiliani
What’s next for Tarun Tahiliani? 
Right now, we are focussing on our TASVA stores and have also already begun work on the couture and bridal collections, which will be shown in July 2022. The new Tarun Tahiliani flagship Boutique is located at Dubash House, 15 JN Heredia Marg, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai – 400001.  
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Schenelle Dsouza


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