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Tarun Tahiliani’s ‘India Modern’ makes the heart of Bangalore its new home

In the bustle of garden city, a stunning heritage space with traditional tiles and stone mosaics now spotlights luxurious drapes and elegant jewellery. Each room is a reflection of Tarun Tahiliani’s ‘India Modern’ philosophy – fusing the old with the new. In a conversation with Lifestyle Asia India, the revered Indian designer paints a picture of the journey that led him to opening his first flagship store in Bangalore.

“This is the third property I saw,” couturier Tarun Tahiliani (TT) notes about his new address in Bengaluru. “I went at 7:00 am, and by 7:45 my mind was made up.” With the help of his friend and interior designer Vinita Chaitanya, the doyenne of Indian fashion lovingly transformed an old-school 4,500 sq.ft mansion into a breathtaking home for his collections. A suave, black and gold sign greets you right at the door of his eponymous store. Inside are dedicated rooms – menswear, fitting, accessories, drapes.

“As I walked through the series of rooms. I felt that this had character, it had these beautiful floors like the old Italian buildings that I had grown up in on the seafront next to the Taj in Mumbai,” the designer adds. These are complemented by a courtyard, or traditional aangan, with a tree that is symbolic of the garden city and its diverse energy. “Home to so much textile heritage, technology, heralding a new age of style and a modern way of life.”

Tarun Tahiliani’s new store champions luxury for oneself

The store includes his signature ready-to-wear and bridal designs. Along with jewellery, heritage textiles, and other accessories for both men and women. The experience of shopping here is personal and emotional – the hallmark of TT. “I often see mothers weep when they see their daughters even try something,” he notes, adding that comfort is key. “I’ve seen a bride who couldn’t get out of her car, cause the clothes were so heavy and then four people had to assist her to move to the stage.”

His designs have a certain elegant brevity to them, winning the hearts of brides across the country – helping them prioritise convenience and accessibility without compromising on glamour. “I see girls jumping around in joy when they know that they can dance and have the most fantastic night partying with family and friends until six in the morning if they wish and not be miserable.”

Now a household name – Tarun Tahiliani fell into fashion by chance when his wife went out modelling to make some extra money and found herself working for Pierre Cardin. Enthralled by his first show, he set on a path that brought him to a carnival-like opening ceremony – complete with Kathak dancers and a stream of consciousness video. Through a series of questions, he unravels his approach to fashion and the days leading up to the launch.

What’s different about this store in comparison to your other ones in the country?

For Bangalore we did a special edit of sarees and some very beautiful embroideries. Because I know it’s a very saree-driven, textile embroidery market As we go forward, more and more will be incorporated into the collections.

Come launch day, we often only get to see the glitzy side of things. Could you cue us in on what went on behind the scenes?

The real challenge was simply on the day of the show because the people who work on the equipment and the general presentation paraphernalia are not as professional as we are used to in Bombay and Delhi. Fortunately we had Anu Ahuja, an old friend of mine who was choreographing the event and who held it together because I always love a stream of consciousness that represents India Modern. So models, kathak dancers, and Cchau dancers will always mingle in a TT presentation. And yes we loved the experience.

You’ve expressed your general dislike for digital in the past, noting how shopping in person is more tangible. What do you hope people take away with every visit?

There’s nothing to beat the amount of information on your fingertips digitally. My problem really is the isolation that happens with it – the inability to suss out quality. For instance, nobody abroad would ever do a review of a show they saw digitally ‘cause you cannot tell the difference between polyester and silk. And most importantly, with Instagram, I find too many people posturing and on the other side people feeling that their lives are inadequate. Most of the coolest people I know love quality and buy what they want, but it’s always for private consumption. In my simple assessment, it’s very rare that someone who’s constantly projecting is doing it purely for the love of it. I’ve often wondered if it’s time to have censorship back because some of the content that’s out there is unhinged and people are taking it as the gospel truth.

You’ve been in the business of fashion for quite a while now. Could you reminisce a bit and tell us when you first visited a boutique that truly made an impression?

I’ll never forget the impression that Ravissant in Delhi made on me when I went in and the entire store pre-Holi was draped in fabric that had been sprinkled with different colours of dyes. It really felt like a streamer fest with these simple elegant T-stands with clothes and this white marble expanse. Not exactly my look today but I remember thinking ‘wow this was amazing.’ Also the time my dear friend Beena Ramani did a fashion presentation of her clothes that she was exporting to New York. There were T-stands with big, wooden cow heads and I really think that must’ve been my first India Modern moment. It was superb, unique and took from the environment that we lived in and created something sensational.

In five words, how do the designs spotlighted here reflect your approach to life?

Comfort, timelessness, drape, elegance, and India Modern.

Considering the modern-day hustle, how would you style an outfit for an evening soiree or wedding at the last-minute?

You can wear something simple and draped and dress it up or down. For a man, even if it’s a kurta with a khadi shawl. In the case of a woman – the simplest drapes can be dressed up with flowers, gold, silver, anything really. It’s about how you wear it.

What are your favourite fabrics to work with at the moment?

Jersey, voile, spun silk – I love fabrics that mould. There are also chaderis, lovely tussars, and moonga silk. I’m glad to say that there’s such a fantastic revival of traditional heavier-weight handlooms that one can use in tailoring. But I also use a lot of Korean crinkle tulle for my draping as well as their jersey that really feel like someone’s pouring molten liquid on your body.

In the era of capsule wardrobes, what makes Tarun Tahiliani a sustainable, smart choice – especially for brides?

If you buy something that is comfortable, beautiful, and light that you can have fun in, you’re going to wear it a lot more. I always tell brides – let’s make one bridal outfit into three for the future. And you know what, when you start to think like that, you’re working towards sustainability.

All images: Courtesy Tarun Tahiliani

Tarun Tahiliani’s ‘India Modern’ makes the heart of Bangalore its new home

Eshita Srinivas

Eshita is a food, alcohol, travel, and entertainment writer who spends her days thinking of the next big trend to write about. She’s a communication graduate with bylines in Conde Nast Traveller India, GQ India, Deccan Herald, and Girls Buzz. When not at work, you’re likely to find her hunting for a good read or charting out the perfect itinerary for a solo trip across Asia.


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