Tata-Naka is the family firm of Tamara and Natasha Surguladze, two Georgian identical twin sisters who were amongst the first wave of post-USSR designers to gain attention in the international arena. Within practically no time after completing their studies as London’s Central Saint Martins, recognition and opportunity followed.
Having recently celebrated their tenth anniversary in fashion, it’s clear to see that the following that they built up from the word go for their very feminine clothes with a light-hearted touch remains the mainstay of their success. Theirs is a fashion language that favours fairly traditional lines in dresses, skirt or jackets in which the strong identity comes out through interesting palettes, textile patterns and, above all, the intricate decorative details that first demanded attention. Often, collections have drawn heavily on traditional Georgian clothes-making traditions: their folk costume inspired silhouettes and intricate traditional embroideries were an immediate success with many women wanting something romantic and feminine whilst being simultaneously practical. But, with the Tata-Naka twins, these attractions were never offered without a wry, knowing eye. Clever little visual tricks – puns in embroidery and sequins- often make themselves known on closer inspection.
The unapologetically girly and not infrequently over-the-top sensibility has understandably gained them something of cult status amongst women in the limelight. For example, Tata-Naka was always something of a regular sight in the hit series “Sex & The City” where all involved agreed that Tata-Naka statement pieces were exactly right for the character of Carrie Bradshaw with her particular mix of quirkiness and a womanly romantic bent that just refused to die in the face of contemporary gender dilemmas.
Tata-Naka’s SS11 collection, however, turns its gaze towards India. Drawing on the traditional dress of India and reconsidering the British Raj with a tongue-in-cheek nostalgia, the collection is brimming with light airy fabrics that float on the breeze. Conjuring up images of rich silks, opulent feathers and luxurious chiffons suited to the heat, Tata-Naka take their nod to the Maharaja’s palace in a carefully muted colour direction. Neutral hues of khaki, soft pinks, beige and the palest of blues are occasionally broken up with louder animal prints on light semi-transparent gauze fabrics. The signature draping to the collection is an homage to the sari that is here turned into everything from delicate short summer dresses to a dramatic swathe atop silky short sleeved shirts conjuring up colonial uniforms, complete with embroidered emblems on the pocket. It’s their unique take on the gladiatorial classical draping that one finds in many collections as a key statement for 2011.
But, Tata-Naka know their women well and there are a number of killer cocktail dresses that stand out as a bold statements in amongst the more demure timeless classicism of the staples. These are largely in pale silks, sleeveless and above the knee, accentuated here and there with a flurry of feathers. The striking and witty signature is the clever embroidery at the neck where a jewel necklace fit for a Maharani shimmers, half printed directly onto the fabric as outline, half filled in as glinting embroidery.