Ensemble gets a major upgrade


Ensemble gets a major upgrade

To represent the best of contemporary Indian fashion, Tina Tahiliani Parikh is thinking big

By Deepa Menon  August 12th, 2016

Before work could start on Ensemble’s expansive new store at Mumbai’s Lion’s Gate, some existential questions had to be asked. In the 29 years that the store has been around, fashion has changed tremendously—how would this Mumbai institution stay relevant? By looking squarely at what’s being done in the industry now, and celebrating the best of what’s available, according to executive director Tina Tahiliani Parikh. This has meant playing to their strengths (a new bridal lounge), recognising new opportunities (a large menswear section), and taking a leap of faith. Now more than tripled in size, Ensemble will be betting on the market’s budding love for contemporary Indian brands. Designed by ace architect Bijoy Jain and staffed by stylists to help shoppers get the most from their designer buys, the store opens on August 10.

ELLE: What can we expect at Ensemble now? 
Tina Tahiliani Parikh: We’ve worked very hard to represent the best of Indian design, to give each designer their fair share. We will have an almost equal representation of contemporary and Indian (ethnic). In the contemporary space, there’s going to be an entire woven saris section. We’ve been seriously promoting and working with textiles for the last few years, but now we’ll be sourcing from weavers all over the country. Accessories are also going to be a big focus. We’ll house the work of young designers we want to support, as well as, say, Anamika’s [Khanna] and Tarun’s [Tahiliani] contemporary lines—so it’s going to be a vibrant mix of styles and designers. We’ll have a fair share of western clothing too, but with a difference.

ELLE: Is it going to be a risk to stock so many younger, contemporary designers?
TTP: I’ll find out when the store opens! It is risky, but there’s a big gap right now between high-street and high-end designer wear. You see a lot of amazing talent at our fashion weeks that simply isn’t being given a platform. And these are clothes you can wear every day—they are cool, fabulous and chic.”

ELLE: You will also offer styling advice?
TTP:
In general—and I think we’ve all felt this—the way that India dresses has deteriorated. When we were growing up, our mothers wore saris and looked so elegant and dignified. Now, a lot of the time, what people are wearing doesn’t suit their shape—and there’s so much out there that would look great on them. You’re being bombarded with so much information, but you have to find out what makes you feel beautiful and sexy. I’m a case in point: I started off as a banker, but just by being exposed to all this incredible beauty, I’ve kind of figured out what I love. We’re going to try and help women do that. We are training a team of stylists to give shoppers fashion advice. Across all sections, we’re encouraging people to mix and match designers.

ELLE: Tell us a little about the new store’s design.
TTP:
This one, like the previous, has been designed by Bijoy Jain and is reflective of where he is today. The design connects to the core of India, while respecting the integrity of the space. By working in elements of daily Indian life, he’s tried to turn the concept of luxury on its head. Here, luxury lies in the thought that goes into each piece, not in the materials used.  

ELLE: The new Ensemble will have dedicated menswear and bridal sections. How were these conceived?
TTP: In menswear, we’ve got the whole range, from one-of-a-kind shirts to contemporary kurtas to ethnic wear, plus accessories. It’s like a whole store in itself. For bridal, we have a beautiful, secluded space for the bride to shop with her friends and family. What we’re trying to do is create a range not just for the wedding day, but also for the functions leading up it. We’ll give you beautiful pieces to pick up off the shelf, depending on the kind of bride you are—and up to a certain price point. 

ELLE: How do you stay ahead of the game?
TTP:
By being really thoughtful and high on curation—every single piece that makes its way on to our racks has been hand-picked and customised. It’s what we do.  

Great Western Building, 130/132 Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai. Tel: +91-22-4056 4825/4056 4800 Ensembleindia.com

On Rakshitha: Silk blazer, trousers, both Payal Khandwala. Woven tunic, Akaaro. Metal earrings, Amrapali. Patent heels, Dune London. On Tina: Fringed cape, jersey trousers, Tarun Tahiliani. Leather block heels, Tina’s own.On Aditi: Woven dress, am.it. Metal coin necklace, Amrapali. Patent heels, Christian Louboutin.On Shreya:  Jersey T-shirt, Payal Khandwala. Wool blend jacket, eka. Neoprene skirt, Dhruv Kapoor. Patent heels, Christian Louboutin. Metal ring, Amrapali.On Alliny: Beaded crop top, Peachoo.Cotton culottes, Bodice. Suede ankle strap heels, Dune London. Metal cuff, Amrapali. Photographs: Manasi Sawant. Styling: Pasham Alwani. Art Direction: Reshma Rajiwdekar