INDIA’S premier fashion store Ensemble opened its doors on December 12, 1987, with a handful of designers with big ideas and even bigger dreams. Now, 29 years and countless fashion seasons later, much has changed. From being the creative playground of fashion vanguards such as Rohit Khosla, Tarun Tahiliani, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla and Rohit Bal, Ensemble became the institution that introduced talents such as Monisha Jaising, Anamika Khanna, Raghavendra Rathore and Varun Bahl. And in its latest avatar, it will showcase the best of contemporary Indian fashion, giving an emerging generation of designers a lavish space to present their work.

Executive director Tina Tahiliani Parikh has her sights trained on the future, even as she throws the doors open to the expansive 10,000 sq ft new look Ensemble in the heritage precincts of the Great Western Building, in Kala Ghoda, Mumbai. The revamped and reconfigured space is, in her words, “reflective of the Indian luxury customer and her needs today”. Excerpts from an interview:

What can we expect from the new Ensemble store?

It’s almost three times the size of the earlier store, so we now have the space to expand our repertoire. We have 2,000 sq ft dedicated to menswear, a consummate bridal section, and an accessories space. We’ve also introduced a whole new section for contemporary Indian fashion, of which we are huge fans. And there will be plenty of handloom garments and saris to choose from. We want to offer the best the sub-continent has to offer.

Why did you feel the need for an entire section dedicated to contemporary fashion?

There’s great work being done by established designers such as Anamika Khanna and Tarun Tahiliani, and innovative stuff being done by labels such as Pero, Savio Jon, Rashmi Verma, Lovebirds, Eka, Amrich, Chola, and Ragini Ahuja, among others. This is a very exciting time for Indian fashion. And being pioneers in India’s retail revolution, we really wanted to talk about our point of view in fashion, which is that the modern Indian woman should be able to come up with her own unique look. Here, she can cross styles, choose between different designers, take items from her personal wardrobe and high street pieces, add accessories and come up with her own look. If you look at what’s available in the market today, there’s a huge gap between the expensive end of the fashion spectrum and highstreet clothing. What’s missing is a whole chic and contemporary Indian way of dressing, clothes that can be worn in any part of the world and are not season-specific. You can wear Tarun dhoti pants with a Zara top, or a Pichoo top with Mango jeans and Suhani Pittie jewellery. It’s about you being you.

Tell us about the new store design.

Architect Bijoy Jain, who redesigned the store in 2003, has conceived it as a cool, chic and modern space. In association with architects Krupa Patel and Vinod Narkar, he has taken elements from the street and worked them into the design, thereby turning the concept of luxury on its head. He has taken regular stools and converted them into accessory units, hung the clothes from bamboo racks, basically taken everyday things and elevated them to a different level. Kate Dineen from the Royal College of Art, who has studied the Araash fresco painting technique of Rajasthan, has worked on the colour story.

Over the years, how have you evolved with your changing customer?

There are more customers buying designer clothes today. Earlier, they were discerning and well-travelled with a lust for something new.

Now, new India is about Bollywood, disposable incomes and not too much confidence. So, we’ve strengthened our styling team to help customers make the right choices. Also, buyers are becoming social media savvy. Consequently, we have beefed up our marketing and social media strategy and we’re talking about youth, focussed merchandising and how to communicate with them more than ever. We may have been a late entrant into the e-commerce game, but are taking it very seriously.Read more at:formal dresses australia | bridesmaid dresses