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In conversation with Tina Tahiliani Parikh

WeddingSutra spoke to Tina Tahiliani Parikh, Executive Director of Ensemble, India’s iconic multi-designer store on what it takes to design garments for today’s discerning brides. The former Investment Banker regarded as one of India’s most influential fashion personalities talks about the global/ local sensibility and designing for brides who want beautifully fitted Indian pieces.

You’re managing Ensemble stores at five different locations- two in Delhi and three in Mumbai. Is there a visible difference in what your bridal clients want at the different stores?
A bit, but what most brides want regardless of where they live in India is more or less the same; they want to ‘stand out’, they want to wear outfits which are a little ‘different’ and creations which are a nice mix of the traditional and modern.

Photo courtesy- Shreya Sen

In the last few years, many fashion writers have written about brides wanting a ‘sexy’ look.
I’m not a great fan of the term ‘sexy bride’. I think ‘bold bride’ makes more sense.

How much have Destination Weddings impacted what you are designing and offering?
Destination Weddings have got brides to be more experimental. For the pre or post wedding functions they want concept saris, gowns and glam dresses which will look good at a wedding venue outside India be it Thailand, Turkey or Bali.

Ensemble was set up 25 years ago, and since then you have seen how families spend on wedding clothes. Is the budget for lehengas increasing?
Yes, and I’m quite amazed how the budget is going up, up and up. Having said that, as clients get more aware of fashion trends, some of them want to spend more, and then there are those who don’t want to spend unnecessarily. Today’s bride is used to wearing western cuts, and is not comfortable wearing heavy Indian garments, so she wants to invest wisely, and not buy anything more (like X number of sarees). The preference is for timeless classics, an ensemble which can be worn later too. Also, there is a misconception that wow lehengas at our store cost a few lakhs or more. My favourite from Ensemble Design Studio’s new collection is a velvet and silk lehenga which costs Rs 96,000.

What advice would you like to share with WeddingSutra readers.
When it comes to wedding shopping, or what to buy there is no ‘must-have’ in my vocabulary. I’d advice brides (or for that matter anyone else) to buy what they love and what they’ll be happy to wear on a happy occasion. But if you’d like me to recommend what’s hot this season- our festive collection features unique pieces such as Resham lehengas (curated to create a makhmal effect- richness of embroidery and texturing which is a reminiscent of the Mughal era), Victorian lehengas, Glass lehengas (with patch-worked fabric and heavy zardozi embroidery creating an effect of stained glass) among others. Coral red is a hot colour, other colours in the palette include a vibrant range of festive colours, dusky gold to lime green to deep turquoise. If you want to experiment with off-beat colours consider pink, blue or white. And finally, if you see lehengas and more lehengas and are confused about what to buy or what will suit you- don’t think only in terms of body, occasion and style, also think ‘comfort’ ‘comfort’ and ‘comfort’.

Today, many designers and multi-designer stores specialise in bridal wear. How is the offering from Ensemble different?
Our mantra is to offer brides a well edited creation with a lot of thought, custom-made to her needs and style. With the reputation we have earned today, brides want to pick atleast one or more outfits from us. And they know that when they wear an ensemble by Ensemble, they will be most comfortable on one of the most important days of their life.

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