The Vanguard Of Modernity – In Conversation With The Tarun Tahiliani

In the world of bridal couturiers, the name Tarun Tahiliani is synonymous with a certain sense of sophistication. A name that needs no introduction, this stellar designer continues to astound the world with his gorgeous creations. Almost a staple for weddings and red-carpet events, his work can be seen exhibited by numerous celebrities and fashionistas. Everyone from the sultry Shilpa Shetty, to the fabulous Elizabeth Hurley to the perfectionist Aamir Khan has worn a creation by Tarun Tahiliani at some point. The first ever Indian designer to be able to showcase their work at the Milan Fashion week, he is clearly amongst the crème de la crème of the Indian crop of designers.


In our interview with him at the Vogue Wedding Show in Delhi recently, he demonstrated why he has his well deserved reputation. A complete charmer of a man, this gregarious soul is a hoot and half. Taking time out of his interview, at four different points, he paid compliments to everyone around him, including our interviewer, who was blushing to her roots. So let’s see what this maestro if Indian fashion has to say.

Q: Speaking of your present collection, how has your bride evolved from the previous image that you had to the one right now?

Tarun Tahiliani at vouge


[Read: Jade by Monica and Karishma]

A: Through lightness, some of them, a lot of them on bright colours. My bride is not this filmy wannabe-my-grandmother model, they want to be more. I’ll give you a description of the clothes, look at the work, look at the quality, the regalness of it, you have to be modern, not this kitschy Bollywood stuff; I don’t like it.

Q: That is something that Tarun Tahiliani has been known to say – and you’ve been saying it of late as well, that in Indian wedding profile, gaudy is the only word that people can identify with. So, the bridal profile is always overdone, overworked.

A: Absolutely.

Q: So this is the minimalism that you are portraying with your beige and cream?

A: It’s not minimal, I think it comes under understated modernity, it’s modernity.

Q: So, for such a profile, how do you think the Indian bride should receive that message?

Tarun Tahiliani collection


A: Girls, you can’t generalise them. There are many sophisticated Indian brides, one can’t generalise, and one doesn’t need to generalise. So, I think brides will do what works for them, but I do think it’s changing; it’s becoming very cool now. For sure.

[Read: Ritu Kumar Bridal Collection]

Q: For your work, what is the kind of methodology you work with? Is Tarun Tahiliani a researcher of fashion?

A: The way I look at it, I do a bit of research, but I’m not interested in research in the past, honestly. Our work moves forward, so there’s no embroidery like this – points to cloth – in the past. We amalgamate work very well, we combine them. There’s a bride walking around showing some of our work, I’ll show you. –brings modfel up – You see how it’s got short in the front and then long? It’s gliding on her body. It’s just floating on her, it’s not heavy, it’s liek lightness. We do a lot of work under the garment to give it a feeling of lightness, to make sure that it’s a piece that flows. They are cut in a certain way, and it is contoured to the body, so we do work in the classical European tradition, in which we spend two hours fitting it onto the body. Frankly, things like that blue lehenga there –points to dress – I don’t know who designed it, I think it’s Manish, that would not pass for us, even in ready-to-wear, in the way it makes you look. It just wouldn’t cut it, it doesn’t have the finesse, it uses Bollywood resources, and it’s not cut or treated in the same way. But in India, these things don’t matter to most people; they just care about the colour and the embroidery. If you’re going to be western, and if you’re going to be wearing all these beautiful western clothes, then the Indian clothes should be cut the same; you can’t go back, you can only go forward.

Q: We’ve been looking at so much of your stuff that it’s finally wonderful to immerse ourselves in the fabrics that you work on. But speaking of that exact evolution that you were speaking off, how do you plan to accomplish this?

Tarun Tahiliani collection

A: Did I show you our couture pieces, look at these. Just look at these. Look at the way it’s modern, it’s still bridal. Everything is sexily up; if you’re going to wear a big jewel, don’t look like a cupboard, you know?

Q: And if you’ve got those shoulder-blades, then you have to show them!

A: Honey, any shoulder-blades are better than none. They’re always sexy. Look at this, it is light. Look at this, oof. And this is just our ready to wear.

We also did our first lesbian wedding, sometime back. It’s not he and she, it was she and she. So I said okay, let’s do it.

Q: It’s beautiful! And so lovely that you did it!

Tarun Tahiliani collection

[Read: Sabyasachi Bridal Lehengas]

A: Look at my love for beige.

Q: You have reinvented beige. Where did that come from, you just woke up one day and decided beige, and that’s it?

A: No no, I had an aunt who always wore beige, and I thought she was very (looks away to talk to another member of the fashion elite)

Q: You have actually incorporated the modern sensibility; there is uninhibited sexuality in your work. That is something we admire.

A: See, look at our men also. We come from the land of the Kamasutra, why should we be so F*@#%!! uptight? It’s just Victorian ch(%)#@^&*!!. Even the men, look at the tailoring. I shot them in my living room, I painted it brown, my family nearly had a heart attack. I just said the white walls weren’t working, and called the painters to paint the whole room brown and grey, and look how beautiful the darkness is.

Q: It looks so rich, like a dragon scale.

Tarun Tahiliani collection

[Read: Manish Malhotra Bridal Lehengas]

A: Yeah, look at the draped dhoti in South Indian fabric; is there anything more sexy than this? (Clearly a rhetorical question) And it’s draped so beautifully. We also make the shoes. Look at the simplicity, if I was a groom I’d wear this. And look at this, we put the cummerbund at the back, just look at him. It’s so modern. Look at this one, I just love it.