GIVEN that he had travelled five hours across a time zone, Tarun Tahilani looked surprisingly bright and alert: he had taken an early morning flight from Delhi, was whisked straight off to the Grand Hyatt and by 5.30pm on the same rainy Thursday was about to head for the airport to fly back to India. To anybody else that would be a long way to come to check out the logistics for a fashion show. But for Tahilani, the trip was crucial. After all, this was going to be his first show in Hong Kong, and among his most important yet. The Bombay-based designer made international news recently when it was revealed that British heiress Jemima Goldsmith was wearing one of his creations at the Muslim ceremony in Paris marking her July marriage to former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan. He was also said to be responsible for producing some of the exquisite pieces she would wear during society functions in her new home in Lahore. 'I didn't realise it was going to be such a big deal,' said Tahilani, in between menu trials and decor planning for his forthcoming show. The traditional heavily embroidered Indian outfit that Ms Goldsmith wore for the religious ceremony was, in fact, a loan by her sister who is a faithful Tahilani customer. 'I didn't even know that Jemima had worn it until after the press started calling me,' Tahilani said. 'At the time, I was actually working on an outfit for her to wear in Pakistan; an ivory silk embroidered coat with net pants.' If that sounds exotic, it is because that is what a Tahilani creation is all about: a fashion fusion of cultural splendour, old-world grace and a fair measure of razzmatazz. In perhaps one of the more unique fashion shows to be brought to Hong Kong, Tahilani's kaleidoscopic couture will be paraded down the catwalk of the Grand Hyatt hotel ballroom today as part of a charity benefit organised by the Hong Kong Indian Womens' Club. He has orchestrated successful runway events in London and Dubai, and believes Hong Kong women will like what he has to show. Stunning Indian model Sunalika Oberoi, who caused a sensation at the Igedo fashion trade fair in Dusseldorf earlier this year, is being brought to the territory for the event along with three other top catwalk strutters, and Tahilani is even bringing along his own choreographer, former model Mehr Jesia. That, together with about 100 outfits and vivid audiovisual effects promises an extravagant event. Although he had a business degree from Wharton University, his artistic inclinations prevailed and he set up Ensemble, a boutique in Bombay for big-name Indian designers. He then spent a year at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York before returning to India. He divides his time between Bombay and Delhi, from where he outfits Indian and Middle Eastern brides and creates his more contemporary ready-to-wear line; his label has been picked up by stores in Toronto, Dubai and London, where his clothes hang side-by-side with those of Isaaz Mizrahi and Herve Leger. Just a few years after getting really serious about his business, Tahilani is often described as India's premier couturier. 'I find that flattering and I wish it was true,' he said. 'But the fact is none of us has really arrived. We all have a lot of work to do.' Designers such as Tahilani reach a sophisticated, international clientele by using the finest fabrics to be found on the sub-continent and synthesising them with his unique Indo-West design; metres of matte-coloured pure silk hand-draped over the body under a cut-work bustier, or a cherry red bodysuit worn with long skinny pants under a sheer gauze flowing skirt. 'Such a different look and statement . . . I knew I was doing something right when Western women would come in to my store and start picking up things they could wear together or with what they already had,' he said. 'I had already decided that I didn't want to start changing my look to fit in with the West. I have a different type of craftsman working for me. Maybe he can't stitch sleeves like an Italian, but he can hand-stitch me three metres of fabric in any colour I want.' Tahilani's clients love his classic fully-embroidered net tailored evening clothes - in a regal Moghul style - worn with palazzo pants or full silk skirts in blooming colours under a threadwork jacket. 'The Japanese didn't conform to any Western idea of fashion, did they? They just did what they wanted and it was like origami,' he said.