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© ENSEMBLE INDIA
1980
The story of modern Indian fashion

Ensemble is the story of modern Indian fashion. A creative idea before its time that decolonised design, revolutionised retail, pioneered professions and galvanised India’s very first fashion community.

Ensemble is more than a multi-designer showcase. Championing the Make In India movement since the eighties, we look at the way India sees, wears, buys and thinks about clothes.

© LIVING MEDIA INDIA
1987
Decolonising Indian fashion

When Tarun and Sal Tahiliani moved to Bombay in the late eighties there were only a handful of Indian designers operating in isolation. Visionaries like Rohit Khosla could make crinkled cotton skirts cool and jazz up jute rope embroidery, but with no retail space or clientele. The revered Asha Sarabhai had her own label for Issey Miyake, but you couldn’t buy it in India.

The lack of a local space for local talent is what led to the launch of Ensemble in December 1987.

India’s first multi-designer store was started in a machine tool showroom on the ground floor of the historic Great Western Building in Fort, Mumbai featuring the original fab 5 of Indian fashion: Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Khosla, Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla, Anita Shivdasani and Sunita Kapoor and American couturier Neil Bieff.

© ENSEMBLE INDIA
1988
India’s first fashion week

There was no dearth of creative talent in 1990s India. But fashion lacked a fraternity. Till Ensemble staged India’s first couture show at the Taj Palace ballroom in 1988.

“Till then fashion shows were tedious, choreographed events,” recalls Tarun Tahiliani. “Everyone looking scared and marching 1,2,3,4 like some kind of PT drill! In zardosi.”

The audience ate up the glamour of India presented in this way. In the models, the music and the creations of Rohit Khosla, Tarun Tahiliani, Sunita Kapoor, Anita Shivdasani, Anuradha Mafatlal and Neil Bieff.

Year after year, Ensemble upped the ante on energy, glamour and drama with its shows at The President (1989), the U.S Club (1990), several shows at the Oberoi and the epic 1994 Goa beachside show. In spite of a full blown storm Mehr Jesia commanded the runway in a billowing dress, followed by 35 other models. Guests were flown in by chartered plane and the show turned into an impromptu pool party. Before the Instagram era, these were the social moments!

Amidst stampedes and standing ovations, the shows highlighted trends for the year and showcased new ideas. They were India’s first fashion week.

© ENSEMBLE INDIA
1997
Merchandising for modern India

Ensemble started out as a space that gave local designers a professional retail environment and a forward-thinking space to showcase their designs. Gradually, it evolved into something bigger.

As fashion evolved, so did the retail strategies and the stores.

Contemporary fashion was always a focal point for us, but in 2008, when the Mehrauli store shifted to DLF Emporio, is when we announced to the world that ready-to-wear Indian fashion is here to stay and deserves a dedicated space. Thus, our first contemporary section was born at our Emporio store.

Retail isn’t about being a middleman between designer and customer. It’s about opening up the talent and beauty India has. Finding it, nurturing it, showcasing it, impacting how the modern Indian mind interprets its own heritage. We have tried to give that experience back to the customer.

Tina re-imagined the way people shopped, creating looks that became a part of your everyday, rather than just occasion wear. In the Kala Ghoda flagship entire sections are dedicated to menswear, handloom and accessories. And ready-to-wear pieces occupy an increasingly large space in all our stores today.

© ENSEMBLE INDIA
1990-2000
The making of a fashion image

In the early nineties, in-house fashion shoots created show invites and print advertisements for Filmfare and Society magazines. India’s first supermodels Mehr Jesia, Marie Lou Philips, Allison Kanuga, Noynika Chatterjee came alive in spontaneous shoots by Tarun Tahiliani and fashion photographers like Ashok Salian, Prabuddha Dasgupta and Rafique Sayed.

By the time Vogue India launched in 2007, Ensemble was advertising memorable campaigns featuring a whole new crop of duskier Indian models like Monikangana Dutta, Ujjwala Raut and Sheetal Malhar. The clothes, creative director Divya Thakur’s styling and photographer Farrokh Chothia's perspective on form and beauty spoke for itself.

© ENSEMBLE INDIA
2007
Two decades and a dinner

The year 2007 marked our 20 year anniversary. An homage to two decades of stand-out style celebrated with a sit-down dinner at the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai where each designer was asked to dress their muse. Rohit Khosla and all the original designers of Ensemble were acknowledged as having contributed to something that had overtaken its original raison d'etre. Past and present, the industry came together to celebrate itself.

The next day we held a larger-than-life fashion show. A tableau of mannequins in the foyer were dressed by every designer we had ever collaborated with. This was long before people were sick of fashion shows and events. If you see our old pictures, there's a mix of naivete and the eagerness to chart unknown territory.

© ENSEMBLE INDIA
2016
Redefining luxury in India

The Ensemble Kala Ghoda flagship relaunched in 2016 completely reimagined and redesigned by cult architect Bijoy Jain.

The store expanded on different levels. Bridal, diffusion and contemporary ready-to-wear were strategically sectioned. An entire section was dedicated to menswear and a part of the store catered to accessories and handloom. It was experiential and highly crafted. The bridal room walls coloured with natural dyes, and clothing racks crafted from bamboo.

To celebrate all things indigenous, Jain collaborated with Muirne Kate Dineen, the only woman in the world trained in araish, the lost art of Indian fresco painting.

Modern and inclusive, Ensemble became a marker for what homegrown luxury could look like.

© ENSEMBLE INDIA
2017
A conceptual show celebrating 30 years

For our 30th anniversary show in 2017, 40 top designers transformed the Kala Ghoda flagship into a museum of sorts, that charted the trajectory of Ensemble and Indian fashion. Gaurav Gupta’s light installation filled up the room, Anamika Khanna put up a showcase with shola flowers and photographs, while Wendell Rodricks recreated his Visionnaire collection, inspired by Braille that he had presented at Ensemble in 1991. It was nostalgic but also futuristic.

Amit Aggarwal’s tree-of-life was suspended in space, a kaleidoscope took you back in time to Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna’s first ever collection for Ensemble and Peachoo displayed textile wall hangings. Savio Jon’s deconstructed checkered shirt had visitors coming in till January to marvel at the avant garde installation. Sari expert Rta Kapur Chishti showcased handloom weaves draped in different ways and Rajesh Pratap Singh created nine canvases of art.

© LIVING MEDIA INDIA
2018
Launching Ensemble Incubator & Loom

Since the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) launched in 1986 talented homegrown designers have steadily emerged and Ensemble engaged with them on the retail side.

From household names like Anamika Khanna and Gaurav Gupta who first retailed at Ensemble, to exciting newer labels like Kshitij Jalori, Karan Torani and Label Pratham, Ensemble has been the gateway for tomorrow’s talent and we work with established and emerging designers on many different levels.

In 2018 we formed Ensemble Incubator, an informal in-house mentorship programme for emerging designers to acquire consumer insight and retail expertise such as fabric and fit suggestions, merchandising tools and clarity on price-points.

Though our work with weavers dates back to 1993, Ensemble Loom was formally launched in 2018 to encourage and preserve the indigenous sari and the craft of weaving, maintaining their relevance in daily life.

© ENSEMBLE INDIA
2020
Instagram and the e-commerce era

As an online shop Ensembleindia.com aims to be an offering of quality over quantity. A refined cross-section of contemporary Indian fashion, from glam occasionwear to sustainable luxe labels for daily life. We are extremely particular about what will appeal to a broader, younger, global shopper keen on modern Indian style.

And if you’re a follower of Indian fashion please make the most of our curatorial edge on Instagram @ensembleindia where you can keep up with what’s new in store, major launches and the best images and ideas in Indian fashion landscape today.

  • 1980
  • 1987
  • 1988
  • 1997
  • 2000
  • 2007
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2020
1980
The story of modern Indian fashion

Ensemble is the story of modern Indian fashion. A creative idea before its time that decolonised design, revolutionised retail, pioneered professions and galvanised India’s very first fashion community.

Ensemble is more than a multi-designer showcase. Championing the Make In India movement since the eighties, we look at the way India sees, wears, buys and thinks about clothes.

1987
Decolonising Indian fashion

When Tarun and Sal Tahiliani moved to Bombay in the late eighties there were only a handful of Indian designers operating in isolation. Visionaries like Rohit Khosla could make crinkled cotton skirts cool and jazz up jute rope embroidery, but with no retail space or clientele. The revered Asha Sarabhai had her own label for Issey Miyake, but you couldn’t buy it in India.

The lack of a local space for local talent is what led to the launch of Ensemble in December 1987.

"It was a need, a want, the right time," recalls designer Rohit Bal. "A little forward...but the right time to begin."

India’s first multi-designer store was started in a machine tool showroom on the ground floor of the historic Great Western Building in Fort, Mumbai featuring the original fab 5 of Indian fashion: Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Khosla, Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla, Anita Shivdasani and Sunita Kapoor and American couturier Neil Bieff.

1988
India’s first fashion week

There was no dearth of creative talent in 1990s India. But fashion lacked a fraternity. Till Ensemble staged India’s first couture show at the Taj Palace ballroom in 1988.

“Till then fashion shows were tedious, choreographed events,” recalls Tarun Tahiliani. “Everyone looking scared and marching 1,2,3,4 like some kind of PT drill! In zardosi.”

The audience ate up the glamour of India presented in this way. In the models, the music and the creations of Rohit Khosla, Tarun Tahiliani, Sunita Kapoor, Anita Shivdasani, Anuradha Mafatlal and Neil Bieff.

Year after year, Ensemble upped the ante on energy, glamour and drama with its shows at The President (1989), the U.S Club (1990), several shows at the Oberoi and the epic 1994 Goa beachside show. In spite of a full blown storm Mehr Jesia commanded the runway in a billowing dress, followed by 35 other models. Guests were flown in by chartered plane and the show turned into an impromptu pool party. Before the Instagram era, these were the social moments!

Amidst stampedes and standing ovations, the shows highlighted trends for the year and showcased new ideas. They were India’s first fashion week.

1997
Merchandising for modern India

Ensemble started out as a space that gave local designers a professional retail environment and a forward-thinking space to showcase their designs. Gradually, it evolved into something bigger.

As fashion evolved, so did the retail strategies and the stores.

Contemporary fashion was always a focal point for us, but in 2008, when the Mehrauli store shifted to DLF Emporio, is when we announced to the world that ready-to-wear Indian fashion is here to stay and deserves a dedicated space. Thus, our first contemporary section was born at our Emporio store.

Retail isn’t about being a middleman between designer and customer. It’s about opening up the talent and beauty India has. Finding it, nurturing it, showcasing it, impacting how the modern Indian mind interprets its own heritage. We have tried to give that experience back to the customer.

Tina re-imagined the way people shopped, creating looks that became a part of your everyday, rather than just occasion wear. In the Kala Ghoda flagship entire sections are dedicated to menswear, handloom and accessories. And ready-to-wear pieces occupy an increasingly large space in all our stores today.

1990-2000
The making of a fashion image

In the early nineties, in-house fashion shoots created show invites and print advertisements for Filmfare and Society magazines. India’s first supermodels Mehr Jesia, Marie Lou Philips, Allison Kanuga, Noynika Chatterjee came alive in spontaneous shoots by Tarun Tahiliani and fashion photographers like Ashok Salian, Prabuddha Dasgupta and Rafique Sayed.

By the time Vogue India launched in 2007, Ensemble was advertising memorable campaigns featuring a whole new crop of duskier Indian models like Monikangana Dutta, Ujjwala Raut and Sheetal Malhar. The clothes, creative director Divya Thakur’s styling and photographer Farrokh Chothia's perspective on form and beauty spoke for itself.

2007
Two decades and a dinner

The year 2007 marked our 20 year anniversary. An homage to two decades of stand-out style celebrated with a sit-down dinner at the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai where each designer was asked to dress their muse. Rohit Khosla and all the original designers of Ensemble were acknowledged as having contributed to something that had overtaken its original raison d'etre. Past and present, the industry came together to celebrate itself.

The next day we held a larger-than-life fashion show. A tableau of mannequins in the foyer were dressed by every designer we had ever collaborated with. This was long before people were sick of fashion shows and events. If you see our old pictures, there's a mix of naivete and the eagerness to chart unknown territory.

2016
Redefining luxury in India

The Ensemble Kala Ghoda flagship relaunched in 2016 completely reimagined and redesigned by cult architect Bijoy Jain.

The store expanded on different levels. Bridal, diffusion and contemporary ready-to-wear were strategically sectioned. An entire section was dedicated to menswear and a part of the store catered to accessories and handloom. It was experiential and highly crafted. The bridal room walls coloured with natural dyes, and clothing racks crafted from bamboo.

To celebrate all things indigenous, Jain collaborated with Muirne Kate Dineen, the only woman in the world trained in araish, the lost art of Indian fresco painting.

Modern and inclusive, Ensemble became a marker for what homegrown luxury could look like.

2017
A conceptual show celebrating 30 years in Indian fashion

For our 30th anniversary show in 2017, 40 top designers transformed the Kala Ghoda flagship into a museum of sorts, that charted the trajectory of Ensemble and Indian fashion. Gaurav Gupta’s light installation filled up the room, Anamika Khanna put up a showcase with shola flowers and photographs, while Wendell Rodricks recreated his Visionnaire collection, inspired by Braille that he had presented at Ensemble in 1991. It was nostalgic but also futuristic.

Amit Aggarwal’s tree-of-life was suspended in space, a kaleidoscope took you back in time to Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna’s first ever collection for Ensemble and Peachoo displayed textile wall hangings. Savio Jon’s deconstructed checkered shirt had visitors coming in till January to marvel at the avant garde installation. Sari expert Rta Kapur Chishti showcased handloom weaves draped in different ways and Rajesh Pratap Singh created nine canvases of art.

2018
Launching Ensemble Incubator & Ensemble Loom

Since the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) launched in 1986 talented homegrown designers have steadily emerged and Ensemble engaged with them on the retail side.

From household names like Anamika Khanna and Gaurav Gupta who first retailed at Ensemble, to exciting newer labels like Kshitij Jalori, Karan Torani and Label Pratham, Ensemble has been the gateway for tomorrow’s talent and we work with established and emerging designers on many different levels.

In 2018 we formed Ensemble Incubator, an informal in-house mentorship programme for emerging designers to acquire consumer insight and retail expertise such as fabric and fit suggestions, merchandising tools and clarity on price-points.

Though our work with weavers dates back to 1993, Ensemble Loom was formally launched in 2018 to encourage and preserve the indigenous sari and the craft of weaving, maintaining their relevance in daily life.

2020
Live! Instagram and the e-commerce era

As an online shop Ensembleindia.com aims to be an offering of quality over quantity. A refined cross-section of contemporary Indian fashion, from glam occasionwear to sustainable luxe labels for daily life. We are extremely particular about what will appeal to a broader, younger, global shopper keen on modern Indian style.

And if you’re a follower of Indian fashion please make the most of our curatorial edge on Instagram @ensembleindia where you can keep up with what’s new in store, major launches and the best images and ideas in Indian fashion landscape today.

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