Made in Chandigarh: ‘It’s a stunning city,’ says fashion designer JJ Valaya
Known as the ‘Czar of Indian couture’, fashion designer JJ Valaya is one of the pioneers of Indian fashion. He credits Chandigarh for giving him not just fond memories but the best years of life.punjab Updated: Jul 20, 2018 11:52 IST
Name: JJ Valaya
Designation: I am creative director
I come from a defence services family with all the men in my family having served in the Indian Army. My late father, Jagjit Singh Ahlowalia, retired as a Brigadier from the Corp of Engineers. My two brothers were also in the army but took premature retirement, one after serving in the Army Medical Corps and the other in the Artillery. My late mother, Raj, was an expert in children’s clothing with focus on party dresses with embroidery. My late aunt, Parmeshwar Godrej, was in herself one of India’s biggest fashionistas and style icons of her time. My spouse, Meghna, is from Jalandhar and I have two daughters - Hoorvi (20) and Someya (10).
I was born in Jodhpur and studied in multiple schools in Delhi, Pune and Lucknow due to my father’s frequent postings. I studied at Yadavindra Public School, Mohali, and was the founder student and first house captain of Patiala House at the school. There is no one senior than our batch from YPS, Mohali. I also studied in Government College for Men and completed my B Com (Hons) from SD College.
My area of expertise
I specialise in luxury fashion, interiors, design consultancy and have a passion for photography and art.
It is my faith, focus and passion for fashion.
It was my decision in 1987 to come back home from my chartered accountancy articleship one evening and sell off my accounting books for 246 with the absolute resolve that I will no longer do what I do not enjoy. This was my life altering decision.
What I owe to Chandigarh
I owe to the city my best years, my best friends, my first girlfriend and a brilliant set of teachers in school like Mrs Kajal Sengupta, who taught us English and Mrs Virk, our art teacher, among others.
Things I like to do when I visit Chandigarh
I simply love to absorb the air of the most beautiful city in India. I also like to drive around to all the old spots in town, meet all my friends and be grateful that I grew up in such a stunning city.
How has the city changed over the years?
I think other than traffic, nothing much has changed, which is brilliant.
The change you would want to see in the city
I actually quite like it the way it is.
The best advice I ever got
Incidentally, it wasn’t given by anyone but is my advice to myself - Don’t try and please everyone and keep believing in yourself.
My advice to others, both professionally and personally
On both counts, it would be to make every moment count. There is no tomorrow or yesterday! The most important, enriched and precious moment is now.