Tarun Tahiliani is India’s renowned fashion designer who is best known for his infusion of modern design and traditional aesthetics. Renowned for the bridal-wear he creates, Tarun talks to MW about his father being his hero and how designing has helped him build fantastic relationships.

 

  • Despite having a great base in Mumbai, I chose to move because I consider Delhi the fashion capital of India; it has more defined seasons. Plus, I’m not a Bollywood designer as such, so I didn’t really need to be there. Now, I run a factory that employs a 1,000 people, so I like how things have worked out.

 

  • As kids, we didn’t even know what a fashion designer was. I would always sketch clothes, shoes etc. I also loved architecture, but I hated physics and chemistry. I studied business, and then opened Ensemble in 1987 with my wife and Rohit Khosla, who was our guide and mentor till he passed away in 1994. When we started out, there was only Ravissant, which is just as beautiful. The others have all closed down for various reasons.

 

  • I went to fashion school at the age of 30, while my wife worked and brought up the kids. I wanted to study because I was keen to learn technical things.

 

  • It’s been almost 30 years since I joined the fashion industry, but I like to start counting from the time I hosted my first solo show and started my label. It’s been 21 years since that.

 

  • I wish I had gone to design school in the first place instead of so late. But then again, regrets are like a double-edged sword. Who knows, if I did the things I think I regret, the others wouldn’t have happened. The older I get, the less I regret.

 

  • I jump out of bed every morning because I enjoy my work. At my age, you appreciate doing something you love. We’re a country of 1.3 billion, out of which 700 million don’t even know how they are going to sustain themselves every day.

 

  • I’m lucky that money was never a problem, even when I was young. Still, I always wanted to make a lot of it. It’s exciting to be able to do what I like, and be rewarded creatively as well as financially for it.

 

  • If I failed as a designer, I would have stuck to the fashion industry in another capacity — perhaps in retail or styling.

 

  • My father was my hero. He gave me the best advice when he said that if I’m honest, I’ll never have to be afraid, and that no matter what goes wrong, there’s always a silver lining. I also believe that there’s no success without failure, and these are things that I say to my kids all the time.

 

  • After I turned 50, I went to a lot of meditation camps, and that has given me more and more courage to do what I believe in. I don’t know what being spiritual means, but I do need my alone time.

 

  • I am constantly working on new collections, but at the same time, I want to be like Aamir Khan. He does one movie at a time and gives it his all, irrespective of the outcome. And he looks healthy and happy. That’s the way to work.

 

  • My most recent joy has been in seeing my elder son join my business. He’s antisocial and says he finds society and fashion fake; he just wants to run the factory and look after the workers. He gets to work early and is the last to leave. As a parent and a professional, that’s very gratifying for me.

 

  • I owe a lot to my career in designing. It has taken me around India and the world. It has humbled me, given me respect for so many people’s professions that others consider small, and has helped me build some fantastic relationships.