India Couture Week (ICW) last year was a symphony of fashion most extraordinary, with Sabyasachi and Christian Louboutin taking bows on the opening night in New Delhi. The eclectic showing of couture by India’s finest designers, put together by Sunil Sethi, President of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), was grandiloquent, with the likes of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty, Chitrangada Singh and Kangana Ranaut walking the catwalk.
However, Sabyasachi will not be showing at this year’s event — he previewed his Firdaus line on Instagram on Monday. But the week’s schedule is still going to be exciting, with the couture debut of Anita Dongre, designer of the Gulrukh tunic dress that Kate Middleton wore on her trip to India in March, and Tarun Tahiliani returning to ICW after a six-year hiatus.
Two of Bollywood’s most beautiful faces, Deepika Padukone and Fawad Khan, are walking for Manish Malhotra, who is kicking off the fashion extravaganza on July 20 at the Taj Palace Hotel, with a finale by Rohit Bal and the de riguer smattering of famous faces lending their celebrity to the runway.
“Tarun and Anita have been influencers and trend-setters in the fashion space and will present defining looks through their sartorial rendition of what a modern woman desires at ICW 2016,” Sethi says. “From the year I became the president of the FDCI eight years ago, I take great pride in the quality of designers who put their best designs on the ramp each year. The fantasy and dream of these designers turn into reality for the customer at couture week each year and I take great pride in that.”
tabloid! caught up with Tarun Tahiliani ahead of his ICW show on July 21.
You are back at ICW after six years since it moved to New Delhi. What brought you back to ICW this year?
I am not sure if ICW was ever in [Mumbai], it is just that I had started with India Bridal Week, and so I stayed with the platform that I had started out with. However, over time I felt that ICW being officially backed by the FDCI was the correct one to be involved with and it happens at a consistent time and at a consistent location, with a degree of professionalism that I have come to expect at the FDCI events, so it made sense for us to switch back since we are a Delhi-based design house. We are very happy to be back and looking forward to having our first show with ICW.
How many pieces are you showing?
We are exhibiting 28 couture pieces and 16 for men. In addition, we will show the ready-to-wear [RTW] bridal lehengas, which will come out in a separate section and are styled to look different, as we do not have a separate platform for the RTW Bridal.
Whose show are you most looking forward to?
Anamika Khanna’s show, who is a friend and colleague. I don’t think I will have time to watch the other shows because I am travelling thereafter. I am sure there will be a wonderful standard in many shows this season. It’s been a long, slow summer and people have had lots of time in their workshops.
Is there a celebrity walking for your show?
No, there is no celebrity walking for us. We have tried the trick and it gets us tremendous eyeballs, but unfortunately, that’s all that’s talked about. We’d much rather have the star of a couture show be the clothes themselves with people noticing the finesse, fit and the embroidery on them. It is very easy to fall into the celebrity trap and we are trying to resist that for as long as we can because honestly, it’s better for the reportage of the clothes if they are the real stars as they should be. Too often, I have seen very mediocre clothes get a lot of splash because it’s been worn by, let’s say Kareena Kapoor, and I don’t think that’s what we want to be associated with.
What is the most challenging aspect of doing a couture show?
The beauty about couture is that it is made to [fit] particular bodies and for a show you get your models at the very last minute... although you do fittings, it is not pushing the envelope as much as [if we had] the models right from the start. To me, that is always the greatest challenge and how to differentiate the couture and RTW shows, besides the costs, price ranges and the finesse of the embroidery and the quality of materials we use.
How are you feeling, as one of the most reputed designers in the Indian fashion industry?
I would be lying if I [said] I am not a bit nervous, I am actually very nervous. I have got a lot riding on the show and I worked on it the whole summer, and we have 25 minutes to show the line. So I am very concerned about all the components coming together to portray it exactly as I see it in my head.
Do you think the blurred lines between ‘couture’ and ‘bridal’ are becoming clearer, or does most of the fashionable populace think they are one and the same in India?
I think that’s one of the best questions I have heard. The lines between couture and bridal are becoming completely blurred because the only time people really indulge in couture without even realising it is during weddings. Most people think that if something is expensive, it is couture. It could be entirely machine-embroidered or machine-stitched and they still think it is couture. They don’t understand that it’s a bespoke experience, designed to mould to every body. We are probably the only design house that has a separate couture studio, though we think it might be time to merge the two now. I am not sure whether the fashion conscious want the same thing, but they don’t have a specific regard for handmade Vs machine-made and I think the designers who don’t do a special couture line have used this to their advantage to keep propagating the myth that it is the same thing. The fact is that it is not.
How many people pronounce couture right?
Most people can’t pronounce the word couture correctly. If it is relevant, we try and teach them the correct pronunciation but there are many who will never get it because phonetically they can’t say certain things, and it is okay if we call it what it is as long as we understand what it is and uphold the standards in every which way, namely, in the fit and on the quality of the garments. I think that is more important than how it is pronounced.