The Gallery at the Hotel Four Seasons in Mumbai had turned into a veritable treasure house of couture, crystal, craft and carat during the fifth edition of the annual Tarun Tahiliani Couture Exposition. Stylised mannequins sat languidly dressed in the most exquisite couture bridal creations by Tarun Tahiliani. To further add to the glitz and glamour they were drenched in Swarovski crystals and twelve 22 carat gold jewellery sets designed by Tarun Tahiliani for Azva.
The gold jewellery revolved around the seven vows of marriage with sets featuring seven in some form or the other. Haars with seven rows, stackable pieces comprising choker and necklace, earrings, bangles from Azva will be retailed through 88 outlets in India by October 2013.
The Forever Mark Encordia diamond jewellery displayed was stunning while the Swarovski Elements that shimmered on the bridal couture were breathtakingly magnificent. To complete the bridal festivities offering there was Diageo India’s Johnnie Walker Platinum Label 18 and the exclusive bridal invitations stationery for the discerning clients from the Entertainment Design Co.
The couture collection was divided into three groups. The Gold Collection was everything a bride ever dreamt of. Italian lamé and jersey in white gold was crafted into Grecian drapes which are Tarun’s forté. The saris were fused into Greek and Indian styles while the Swarovski 3D flowers added drama to the sensuous creations displaying chain mail dupattas.
The Enchanted Forest Collection had the drama of pink, ivory, beige and red where corsets and lehengas, cocktail dresses and sari gowns vied for attention. Here was full blown bridal glamour with ornate Obe belts, capes, concept saris inspired by Spanish grandeur and lehengas that shimmered with unbelievable beauty.
The Man of the Hour Collection gave grooms as much importance as their pretty better half. Kanjeevaram saris were turned into stylish sherwanis and draped dhotis. Bandhgalas were innovatively styled with jersey stoles sewn into the neckline. Luxe velvet in blue and jade green had jewelled necklines and cuffs. Persian motifs, asymmetric Bundis and crinkled cotton kurtas completed the look.
The Tarun Tahiliani Empire has a turnover of Rs 60-70 crore with couture comprising 30 per cent and ready-to-wear (RTW) 70 per cent, with lehengas in the last category selling for Rs 5 lakh at times. lakh at times.
For Tarun the word couture is very important. “The word couture came from the West but I find it’s used too loosely and bastardised. Shirts for Rs 8000 are termed as couture, which is actually RTW. Couture means making toiles, fittings and frankly even at couture weeks many clothes are RTW. If it is expensive it’s not couture. We take hand embroidery for granted. Couture is how things are made it is about proportions and the bespoke experience. People don’t understand, they think if it is prét it’s cheap but prét is not cheap. An Elie Saab gown or an Abu-Sandeep creation if hanging and fits is RTW. So if I do couture it would not be a 130 metres hem hanging in a store, because it has to be proportionate. We are setting up exclusive couture studios in Mumbai (3000 sq. ft.) and Delhi (6000 sq. ft.), which will open soon with private rooms, fitters, bespoke tailoring for men, which will be cut by Seville Row and tailored so that the fit is perfect. That’s couture and RTW is what we sell in the store.”
While festive and bridal wear is all about bling Tarun’s take is, “People do bling and it is part of our culture, but we have toned it down. The pieces are very subtle. I have seen an overkill of bling. They are not wearing jewels anymore they are wearing bibs, so it has to be balanced now we have gold options to.”
Tarun has also seen a marked shift in the sensibilities of people towards fashion. “There is a good shift, people understand fit. There is also a lot of confusion due to many choices. If I go to a buffet I get bewildered with choice. People are also getting used to western fashion as they are exposed to it. It is a process of evolution and there has been a very dramatic change in the last ten years.”
Luxury is the new word that has taken Indians by storm but for Tarun luxury means the choice to choose what really works for you. “Be it watches, garments, shawls, the way shoes fit, luxury is in your own head. Luxury is how you feel. It is not what someone else thinks, which is a nouveau rich perception of showing off big logos. Luxury is what your hand feels and the tangible finer points in a garment. How comfortable you are of course is important, how you look wearing fine muslin is luxury.”
With the Tarun Tahiliani Couture Exposition the designer has turned into a one-man fashion expo. “I have always done it to show these clothes which are difficult on the ramp. Fashion expos are too mass and people are coming there to copy. Next year when they have the bridal week we will have it there only for our couture clients. This event helps my sales which have gone up by 20-30 per cent. “
Tarun was very keen on the prét line but did not know where to produce. “I had not honestly thought it through and the orders were there, it was well-priced RTW. We are again bringing the Tarun Tahiliani label with a different spectrum. You can find draped pants in the boutique for Rs 4000.”