JJ Valaya Tells Cosmo About Creating Masterpieces, When Designers Turn Psychologists And More

The master couturier is all set to unleash the power of ‘experiential couture’ with a new Valaya space and jewellery collaboration.

Arpita Kala

For couturier JJ Valaya nothing says a ‘welcome back’ better than a successful runway show.

The designer emerged from his three-year-long sabbatical to present, Tabriz, inspired by the 16th- 19th century Persia. “I think it was refreshingly different from what people have been seeing and that came across really well. Tabriz had all the elements of what we are known for – the embroidery, the colours and the underlying layer of royalty, just done in a sharper, crisper way. It got appreciated exactly the way I had hoped it would,” he says.

Tabriz may have materialized after nearly a year of research with every single garment personally sketched by Valaya, but the Middle East has long been a muse for the designer.

“Isn’t that what a Royal Nomad should always do, he wanders from one place to another? The whole silk and spice routes, this part of the world has always been closer to my heart. If someone asks me to do a collection inspired by America I would never be able to relate to it,” he says.

New beginnings, old-world charm

The House of Valaya may be continuing to do what they do best – create luxurious bridal wear but now, they will be taking it up a notch with an upcoming showroom early next year. “For me, couture is not about creating pretty pieces. It is about – Can I create a masterpiece? I want to create almost like a gallery sort of environment where people can take in the sheer beauty and then, invest in it, much like art.”

With close to three decades in the fashion industry, the designer wants to give his audience a taste of old-world couture and understanding luxury in the truest sense of the word. “Now, everyone takes a piece of fabric, embroiders it, hangs it and suddenly, the word designer and couture have become commonplace. That’s not right. There’s a spirit to couture…it is not just about clothes and embroidery. So, when our space opens, you will understand what I mean,” he says.

While most of the Indian brides prefer traditional couture for their wedding day, there are also some who are not averse to adding a western spin. But the Royal Nomad of the House of Valaya has some sound advice for them. He says,“ Even if some of our clients ask us to do gowns or such, I always advise them to get somebody else for the slightly western fusion silhouettes. This does not mean that we are not evolving with times. Even though Tabriz had the lehengas, saris and sherwanis, there was distinct modernity and crispness to the garments too.”

Design psychology

A stark change in Valaya’s latest show was the inclusion of more menswear. The couture menswear market largely remains untapped. This has not gone unnoticed by Valaya who reveals that for the last 27 years that House of Valaya has been around, nearly 30-35% of their revenue comes from menswear. So, the new direction taken by the fashion house is to cater to the increasingly style-conscious men.

“I have always said that though it is true that we are designers but we are also psychologists. We actually sit down and understand what will make a person feel good on their special day, and then we adapt the person into our aesthetic to create a unique look for them,” he says. Apart from the designs, the jewellery featured in the show in collaboration with Archana Aggarwal added to the appeal of the regal ensembles. Now, the couturier is all set to join forces with Aggarwal to launch JJ Valaya line of jewellery just in time for his store launch.

The world of Valaya may be divided into 3 distinct segments – his core, fashion, then, there is fine art photography, his passion or hobby and then, luxury home interiors. But, as he puts it, “The common thread that runs through all three is the creator, me, so even if they may interlink they continue to breathe their own soul.”

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