Grandeur and opulence mark the creations of one of India’s ace designers, JJ Valaya, who has been consistent in displaying his love for luxury in every exercise taken up by him. In almost 20 years of its contribution to the Indian fashion industry, brand Valaya remains exclusive.
“I always knew it had to be something grand. Scale is important — in couture and weddings,” says Valaya, who was in the city on Sunday to inaugurate a multi-designer store, Adaah Couture, in Sector 8, which will house his creations amongst other top designers’.
On a bright day that hints at an impending hot summer, Valaya, his Ray Bans tucked in his shirt-front, is at ease being photographed, ensuring all along in his gentlemanly manner that the ladies are seated. “A lady should never be left standing,” he remarks as he spots a scribe looking for a seat.
A product of Yadavindra Public School, SAS Nagar, and later NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), New Delhi, Valaya is synonymous in the fashion world for being a frontrunner in introducing extravagance in Indian wear. In fact, he stays adamantly loyal to the Indian design.
“There is an inherent strength in India,” he comments, adding that the tide is now turning towards traditional wear with more designers focussing on the country’s interiors. “The core area of business is in Indian wear. It is the easiest to create a look in India,” adds the designer, who launched his couture label, JJ Valaya, in 1992, adding many more to his kitty over the years, including JJ Valaya Muse, JJ Base, JJ Quantum and JJ Home.
There are many firsts to Valaya’s credit — he was the first to open the country’s largest single designer store, JJ Valaya Life, in New Delhi in 1996, which comprises soft furnishings, signature tapestries and accessories, apart from apparel. “It remains the largest till date, perhaps even amongst multi-brand stores,” he says about his 10,000 square feet store. The designer is also the first brand ambassador of Swarosvki in India.
Valaya, whose love for novelty inspired the creation of the Alika Jacket in 2010, says the jacket has been one of the brand’s best decisions.
“It is to me what Chanel’s Tweed is to Chanel. Its silhouette will never change; its shape stays the same. Yet, it is versatile. I am soon coming up with a ‘Day and Night Alika’,” shares Valaya, who says he picks up one inspiration in a year and works his spring/summer and fall/winter collections around it. This year, it is the Ottoman Empire that inspires the designer’s ‘Azrak’ collection.
He wouldn’t like to predict upcoming trends, saying he is uncomfortable using the term. ‘I don’t think trends always work…for instance the anarkali suit might not look good on everyone,” Valaya explains. However, where bridal wear — his specialty — is concerned, Valaya has a forecast to make. “It is set to look sexier,” he smiles conspiratorially.
This year, Valaya has many plans up his sleeve, the creation of a new label, JJ Valaya Classic, being one of them. “It will be niche, high-end, but more affordable. The brand will be a merger of JJ Quantum and JJ Base, using our special techniques such as the metal appliqué,” he elaborates. In a mood to appease the middle-class Indians with a larger disposable income, Valaya insists he still won’t do everyday wear, saying, “Prêt is not in my DNA.”
In the later part of the year, the designer also intends to launch The Home of the Traveller — a unique retail venture with artefacts hand-picked by Valaya from across the world. “What doesn’t change is JJ Muse, my dream baby, which has only 10 pieces manufactured in a year,” he declares with pride.