NEW DELHI (IANS) — Having draped most of the leading ladies of Bollywood like Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit-Nene in his creations, veteran fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani says that fashion is his muse, not a Bollywood star.

“Art, architecture, interiors, history, travel and maharajas... My inspiration comes from many things. Sometimes it’s from beautiful inlay work that I’ve seen in a fabulous monument; other times my inspiration can be something as simple as a beautiful kanjeevaram weave,” Tahiliani told IANS in an email interview. 

“Ultimately, however, my inspiration comes from India’s rich traditions of craftsmanship, particularly when it comes to things like embroideries that we have in India. Nothing is more amazing than beautifully executed, intricate and fine technique. I don’t design clothes keeping a Bollywood star in mind, but rather for the new age contemporary woman,” he added.

Tahiliani believes that the Indian fashion industry has become more organized and a little more professional.

Best known for his ability to infuse Indian craftsmanship and textile heritage with a European tailored silhouette, the designer believes that the Indian fashion industry has become more strategized and cemented over the last 20 years.

“India's propensity to consume is gaining an international audience and this is changing the competitive landscape,”

“It has certainly become more organized and a little more professional, and obviously the market has exploded, but I think that we still have a long way to go in terms of being more business oriented and there’s still room to get more organized and professional,” the designer added

Eulogizing the new and younger crop of designers, Tahiliani, who has over two decades of experience in the industry, believes that they are doing well in terms of the handloom and textile industry.

“What’s really heartening to see is that there are so many younger designers who are going places and are doing so well in terms of the handloom and textile industry... it has become more organized. I think handloom was very localized in terms of weavers with a certain look from a certain area sold through certain channels,” said the co-founder of Ensemble, a multi-designer boutique.

“There has been a lot more creative freedom and other regions are experimenting with textile alien to their region, especially if they are more lucrative. As long as people appreciate traditional craftsmanship and embroideries, machine work will never replace the richness of hand embroidery,” he added.

Asked if the plus-size models are yet to move into the mainstream industry in India?

“Well, they should have moved into the mainstream long back. But are not normally associated with very expensive high fashion and couture,” Tahiliani said.

On July 21, the designer, infused with grandeur and elegance, ended the second day of a five-day fashion gala with his collection, 'Last Dance of the Courtesan', at the FDCI India Couture Week 2016.

The collection, which was a tribute and acknowledgement of the highest bastions of culture, poetry, dance and finesse as practiced by the courtesans till a little over a century ago, had embroideries in a new avtar.

The showcasing commenced and ended with a Kathak performance by Sufi Kathak dancer Manjari Chaturvedi, who donned a peach-pink lehenga choli and dupatta embellished in swarovski.

Embellished with different shapes and sizes of Swarovski crystals, the collection was in hues of ombre, sunset ombre, yellows, creams to peaches to blues, oranges to reds, reds to pinks on fabrics like sushi voile, georgette, cotton jacquard, cotton silks, crepes and cutwork jamdanis to create light and breezy styles in draped forms.

With fusion music in the background, a huge crystal chandelier, worn out mirrored pillars and mogras looming from the ceiling added to the atmosphere

The paneled jackets, voluminous skirts, concept saris, lehengas uplifted by opals, pearls and other crystals from swarovski interspersed with French knots and floral embroidery complemented with messy hair buns with flowers tucked on one side, the models in courtesan inspired drapes looked attractive, beautiful and earthy.

"The music for show has been actually re-sung using the lyrics as remembered by the last of the nautch artists, now in their 80’s and 90’s," Tahiliani told IANS.

"Acclaimed Kathak dancer of Lucknow gharana, Manjari Chaturvedi, whose devotion to Sufi Kathak and tireless work in preservation of this tradition and restoration of some dignity through an appreciation of that refinement and craft, is being appreciated. That world is lost. It was not, what we are used to seeing depicted in commercial cinema," Tahiliani added.

The male models flaunted Tahiliani's cream hued creations reminiscing the time when the well-dressed and handsome, rich nawabs visited kothas to see the courtesans and dancers perform.

Speaking about the collection and the courtesan theme Chaturvedi said: "It was spectacular the way Tarun brought in an old tradition in a modern format. The courtesans themselves were style icons who lead the fashion scene so many years back.

"I am so happy Tarun brought the tradition, look back to let people know that courtesans were great artists," she added.

Other designers from the Indian fashion fraternity like Reynu Taandon, Rimple and Harpreet Narula, Rahul Mishra, Anamika Khanna, Varun Bahl, Gaurav Gupta, Manav Gangwani and Rohit Bal showcased their latest collection at the five-day event, which concludes on July 24.

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