Tarun Tahiliani stands tall as one of India’s foremost designers. He is best known for combining traditional Indian textiles and craftsmanship with modern design. His celebrity clientele includes the likes of Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif and Shilpa Shetty. Sister Tina runs Ensemble, Tarun’s brainchild and India’s first ever multi designer store in Mumbai.
Tina shows us the other side of Tarun, that only a sister could know!
I’ve often wondered, which of you is the older one?
If Tarun heard you ask that question you would get a big hug from him. I am four years younger, but he worries that he looks so much older than me!
Were you close as siblings while growing up?
We lost our mother when we were quite young. I was 12 and he was 16. We naturally grew closer because of that. He was an incredibly protective and nurturing elder brother.
Could you see a designer in him even then? When you were growing up?
He went off to Doon School to study. When we would go for Founder’s Day, my brother would always win the prize for the best Art.
And the art was...
He would create paintings. They would always be of women, and each woman would be accessorized to the last detail, jewellery et al
Any other hints that he would channel his creativity towards clothes?
When we were still sharing a room, I would often see him sketching in his sketch book. He would draw ballet dancers. They would be perfectly dressed in tutus that he would painstakingly colour. It was obvious he was artistic, but of course no one guessed that he would take to designing then. It was not even a considered option for anyone to take up seriously .
But he did love dressing up his sketches and paintings...
In fact he went further. He would take me to buy fabric, and then come with me to the tailor and explain how the dress should be made. Those days we went to our darzis and got clothes made, and he was always at the helm of such expeditions.
I remember when he finished school, he went to the US, it was his first trip. When he returned, half his suitcase was full of clothes for me. That was not all. He made me wear them, and took photos of each garment, after making sure I had shoes and earrings to match.
Despite all this there was no question of him studying to be a designer?
Definitely not. Those days there was no alternative to a mainstream career. In fact he went abroad to continue his study and joined Vassar, a liberal arts college, then moved to Wharton. He was a responsible person, and doing his duty in taking up more serious studying.
He completed Wharton and came back to join our grandfather’s firm. It was an engineering firm, and as my father was by then then Chief of Naval Staff, someone had to run it. So Tarun took it on.
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