Karan Torani's collection Sindhi Tent House
Karan Torani's collection Sindhi Tent House

Delhi-based designer Karan Torani stirs nostalgia of old-fashioned Indian weddings with latest edit Sindhi Tent House

His collection is inspired from desi shadis of yore with a brightly patterned shamiana pitched in the neighbourhood park with guests dressed to the nines in their glitziest best

Nostalgia has been playing a key role in the fashion fraternity for a while now. We are living in a social media world of #tbt (Throwback Thursday) and #fbf (Flashback Friday), where there’s a constant urge to go back and idealise childhood memories. Delhi-based designer Karan Torani decided to pick one of the most celebrated Indian experiences—weddings! Not the chic, wedding-planner designed events of today, but those desi shadis of yore with a brightly patterned shamiana pitched in the neighbourhood park with guests dressed to the nines in their glitziest best.

With a potpourri of memories, his clothes are unapologetically bold and bright—glistening velvets, strong prints against the silk canvas and ornate appliqués—all harking back to the time when weddings were enjoyable family gatherings and not corporate-style events. And his muse, as he explains, is quite literally, the shamiana. Hence, the name of his new collection–– Sindhi Tent House.

And why not? For his father was a wedding tent decorator with a shop called Sindhi Tent House in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar around the late 80-90s, a business which faded away with the onset of fancy wedding planners. “I spent a large part of my childhood around the weddings he decorated and often accompanied him to lighting shops and flower markets,”recalls Torani. And although his brand came into being to pay homage to his father’s unsung journey, he adds that upon his research, it also became about celebrating the people who have given our weddings their true identity, yet are so easily overlooked and forgotten.

Under all the shimmer and sparkle of an estimated 50 billion dollar industry that has created millions of jobs at a local level, there are layers of hidden stories. These include the bandwalas and halwais who couldn’t keep up with the international music and upmarket catering today; the desi shehnai and ghazal singers who yearn for just another mehfil; or the old school film camera shops that couldn’t sustain their business in a world of curated Instagram wedding videos. 

“The people who were responsible for putting together someone’s special day decades ago had to slowly fade into oblivion. With our collections, everything is visible,” the designer says. Sindhi Tent House tells their stories, plus it is largely a culmination of colours and looks that have had a deep resonance in Torani’s memory and the films he grew up with. Indian fashion has always been a reflection of cinema and that was the case with him as well.

“As a 90s kid, Hindi cinema has been a gold mine of sweet nostalgia and unique styling references for me. I grew up on Madhuri and Salman’s dance numbers in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, a film that achieved cult status, and also redefined fashion trends.”

From styling elements like shoes and accessories to minute details of their garment construction, like tassels and laces, all have been referenced from a sea of research from vintage family albums and posters of Hindi film heroines.

Torani’s design journey started once he graduated  from Pearl Academy in New Delhi in 2015.It took him some time to understand the oversaturated bridalwear market, but with his maternal grandmother and past experiences as inspirations, he launched his label in July 2018. 

He posted images of a collection of 24 garments on his Instagram account and within a week, it was picked up by the head merchandiser of multibrand store Ensemble, and the collection sold out. Four years on, he hopes to replicate the same success with the launch of his store in Mumbai. Judging by his fascination for the film industry, it is a perfect place to start.

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