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Storytelling in Fashion: Through the lens of Torani

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

-Bhavya Thakkar

“Kabhi neele aasman pe, chalo ghoomne chale hum,

Koi abr mil gaya to zameen pe baras le hum”

(Some time on the blue skies, may we go for a walk,

If we find any cloud, then we’ll rain back onto the earth)

Gulzar’s words echo around us and then swiftly seep into our souls as we take a deep dive into the world of Torani. It is safe to say, his designs can make just about anyone feel like the muse of a poet and what more can anyone want? To be wrapped up in weaves of poetic beauty along the lengths of your body, to feel as if the waves of the ocean exude from your hair and that your eyes tell the tales of an old-school romance.

This is not me over-exaggerating anything; this is the power of the visual storytelling that the Delhi-based designer Karan Torani holds.

Starting his vision from a room with four kaarigars to now being a label that everyone wants to bet on, this boy-next-door from Delhi has surely etched his name in the world of fashion. Growing up to a father who was a “tentwallah” in south Delhi, Torani nurtured his sense of creative direction by looking at the kaarigars bringing their vision to life for weddings. One can only imagine a starry eyed young boy sitting under the glitter and lights of a wedding preparation and growing up to make a brand like his which is the epitome of simplicity and grace. Indeed, artists never fail to impress!

When he started his venture, he was keen to inaugurate his social media campaign with Supermodel Lakshmi Rana who he felt embodied the right mix of old-school charm with a touch of the modern aesthetic. His later-on campaigns with her, namely “KAAYA, the goddess of carnal desires” went on to be huge successes as it not only portrayed his enigmatic art but also addressed social issues and taboos.

Taking the old-world aesthetic to a new level, in a short span of time, Torani has made a mark with his unique design stamp which is now as easily recognizable as the Burberry Check. One can’t help but associate his designs to the works of cinema, no wonder he calls himself a ‘storyteller’. It’s almost as if he was born in the wrong era and his soul still roams somewhere around in the mystical days of when Indian handlooms started bringing him all sorts of inspiration. That being said, he claims his eternal muse is his NANI (grandmother), growing up and spending time with her led him to appreciate and understand the essence of true, refined Indian clothing.

It’s almost as if he’s trying to relive his own memories and create memories that never existed in physical form but only breathe life in his artistic vision, if that makes sense. What sets him apart from other designers is the amalgamation of poetry romance and cinema in his designs. None of his collections are deprived of meaning, each have their own story like pictured above is his design story called ‘SHUDDHI’, which was his most challenging collection yet as claimed by him via an Instagram post. It draws inspiration from the Sapt Sindhu, the 7 holy rivers of India. The collection consisted of simple yet hauntingly beautiful white on white silhouettes and light pastel blues as the reflection of the eerie charm of the soft flowing rivers of India.

The logo of Torani draws inspiration from the seven trunked white elephant that flew in the skies and showered rains with Lord Indra, one of the characters he held strongly onto while growing up. After all, his brand is a “potpourri of nostalgic fables told by his grandmother”, as exclaimed by him. Deeply intrigued by mythology and the tales of Hindu gods and goddesses, Torani holds a strong touch in their understanding and through that he can make his designs shift to a whole other dimension- the dimension of the divine, the holy and that’s what makes it timeless.

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