Tahari is of Persian origin and grew up in an Israeli orphanage. He immigrated to the United States in the 1970s with little money and after his arrival in New York, sought work in Manhattan's The Garment District, where he learned about the fashion retail business. His position selling clothing from a boutique in Greenwich Village introduced him to women's fashion. He began designing women's fashion inspired by the New York City nightclub scene.
Throughout the 1970s, Tahari remained focused on women's fashions, and his designs were well received. He was one of the first fashion designers to open a boutique on Madison Avenue, in 1974.
In the 1980s, Tahari turned his focus to the tailored suit, with designs geared to look both smart and sexy.
After his 46th birthday he met his future wife. In his words, "Rory is my greatest love, and therefore, my greatest inspiration." In a collaborative effort, this husband-wife team has tripled the size of the company in the last five years, and launched the Elie Tahari Collection.
Now that the company has branched out, Tahari has been able to attain the likes of Agyness Deyn, Daria Werbowy and Eugenia Volodina to model his clothing.
Women have been drawn to Elie Tahari designs for over three decades, and this devoted following continues to revel in the feminine embellishments, sensual fabrics, and subtle textures that have come to define the Elie Tahari collection.
In the United States, Tahari has boutiques in New York, Boston, East Hampton, Atlanta, Bal Harbour, Boca Raton, and Las Vegas. In the 2007 movie Enchanted, two characters are shown shopping at Tahari's New York City store.
He and his former business partner Andrew Rosen co-founded the Theory fashion brand in 1997. Tahari designed the clothes and Rosen was in charge of marketing and sales. Elie Tahari sold his share of the business for a reported $53 million in 2003 and is no longer involved in the company.