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Siddartha Tytler on Designerwear

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Fashion Designer Siddartha Tytler with mother Jennifer
Siddartha Tytler on Designerwear
01 st Apr 2006

His father wanted him to become an engineer while his mother thought he’d make a good architect. But, by the age of 16, Siddartha Tytler, son of politician Jagdish Tytler had decided that he wanted to be a fashion designer. He was fascinated by the designer creations that he’d seen in New York during a vacation and wanted to design clothes like Versace and Armani. After finishing his schooling from St Columba’s in Delhi, Siddartha told his parents about his plans to study fashion designing. He joined the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Delhi and graduated with flying colours. From there he moved on to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. Siddartha held his first fashion show in 2002 soon after returning from New York. Since then, he has held several shows and has risen to become a highly visible member of the fashion fraternity. Currently the 26-year-old designer is getting ready to showcase his latest collection called A Tribute to Moksha at the India Fashion Week. For the line, he’s played around with Benaresi weaves and Mughal motifs. Siddartha also designs clothes for his export house, which is looked after by his mother. Jennifer Tytler, the daughter of a Scottish mother and an Irish father, was born in Delhi and studied at Wynberg-Allen School in Mussoorie. She did her honours in English Literature from Miranda House in Delhi and an MA in English from Meerut University. After marrying politician Jagdish Tytler, she did her B.Ed. from Jamia Milia Islamia University. She is the principal of the J D Tytler School, which is owned by the family, and teaches English there too. Besides running the school and teaching Class 12 students, she has now also taken over the management of her son’s export business. He says the export house has been doing well ever since his mother took it over. Siddartha: If there’s one person I’m closest to in my family, it is mom. In fact both my sister and I are closer to mom than we are to dad. She has been the last word in all the big decisions of my life, especially when I was growing up. Though she never forced her opinion on us, she always said, do what you feel like, but be ready to brave the consequences, for you’ll be responsible for your actions. Being a teacher and a principal, my mother always saw to it that I did well in studies. She’d sit with me before the exams and teach me even when I was in Class 11. Since my dad was a minister, my family faced death threats. A couple of times I couldn’t go to school for two to three months due to security reasons, and of course, I loved it. One day, when I was in the sixth standard, a stranger walked up to me and said that my dad had met with an accident and was calling me. As I’d been trained for such a situation, I called up mom and found that nothing of the sort had happened. She immediately told me to go and find my guard. When I returned with my guard, the stranger was long gone. Being the youngest, I was an obnoxious brat. I was naughty, but I never misbehaved or picked fights with anyone. My mom always told me that if I had to sort out something, to do it with words and not with actions. As far as partying was concerned, my mom imposed a curfew on me when I was growing up. When I was in 10th grade, it was 9pm and in Class 12, it was 11pm. When I was in college, I was supposed to be back by three in the morning. I must say that my mother has had a strong hold over the family. When I decided to take up fashion designing as a career, my dad wasn't too happy, but mom backed me up. Initially I used to create dresses for her, but I hardly get the time now. When it comes to clothes, my mother has a very set style of dressing. If I had to create something for her, it would be a long, flowing skirt with a top because I feel she looks her best in skirts. I buy her something or the other once a month but the best gift for her would be a Rohit Bal outfit. As far as cooking goes, mom doesn’t cook at all. The only thing she prepares once a month is Shepherd’s Pie, which I just love. Because of my work, we have drifted apart a bit but I do make it a point to have dinner with her at home. I’m glad she is an understanding mother who is also very calm and easy-going. Jennifer: Siddartha was the sweetest child and you could never shout at him. He was naughty in a very lovable way and was always very creative. I remember how he loved playing with Lego toys and used to create fantastic things with them. When he started drawing on the walls of the house, we thought it was high time we hand him paper and pencil. He never liked academics but always had an inclination towards drawing. He stood second in engineering drawing, which was his subject in Class 12. In fact I thought he’d become an architect. His father wanted him to become an engineer and was appalled when Siddartha said he wanted to study fashion designing. But I said, let him try it. Siddartha wanted to go to FIT in New York but his father insisted that he first join NIFT. In any case, Siddartha did pretty well there and stood second in the fashion show in his final year. As a child, Siddartha and all of us faced security threats, but it never worried me much because I have this great belief that life and death is in God’s hands, and that if you haven’t wronged anyone, nothing bad will happen to you. I remember a very funny incident, when Siddartha was in the first standard. He went up to his teacher asking her to let him go out. When she refused, he kissed her and ran out of the classroom. Although she was the strictest teacher in the school, she couldn't stop giggling. Another incident that I remember is once after school, he was hanging around in the school office sucking a lollipop. So one of the senior-most teachers playfully took it away. He simply whispered something into his ear and the teacher started laughing. I asked the teacher what my son had said and to my surprise, he had told him, “Give me the lollipop back or I’ll get you sacked”. The very next day, I went and spoke to the principal of St Columba's and told him that my son had a massive superiority complex and I wanted to get him admitted there. In J D Tytler, he was the principal's son and when he joined Class four in St Columba's, his father became a union minister, so he was a minister's son! But Siddartha has been a very obedient child. If he made a mistake, I'd ground him for two to three days and he’d take it quietly. The only thing that annoyed me when he was a kid, was his stubbornness when it came to saying sorry. Once I asked him to say sorry and he just wouldn't utter the word. But I was adamant too and said, “Nothing doing Sid, you can’t get away without saying sorry.” So he finally said "OK, S. .R .E" but still didn’t pronounce the word 'sorry'. He was about five years old then. But as a grown-up, Siddartha is very protective of his mother and sister. He won’t actually say anything but you can always sense it. When he first started creating clothes for women, I was his first model and wore the clothes he’d make. Now he is busy creating clothes for other women and hardly gets to create anything for me. But no matter how busy he is throughout the day, he is always home for dinner. He has a great sense of responsibility and no matter how late he has gone to bed, he’s up and ready by 9am to leave for work. I’m so proud to have a child like him, who is an obedient son and a very talented individual.

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