A name synonymous with bridal couture, JJ Valaya’s timeless designs offer a mix of royalty and elegance, and they keep up with the ever-changing fashion preferences of the modern couple. The designer gives an insight into royal wedding trends. By Bayar Jain
Tell us a little bit about your new website.
We treat our website (valaya.com) as a bespoke experience and a virtual avatar of ‘World of Valaya’. When patrons visit the ‘World of Valaya’, they don’t just enter to buy—they see our portfolio and legacy as well. The merchandise, too, will be a replica of the real-time store. We’ve got the same human touch, detailed appointments, measurements, etc. Every customer will be given the same attention as in the store.
In the mid-90s, when the internet was introduced in India, we were amongst the first ones to create a website. Over time, we started paying more attention to brick-and-mortar stores and the website took a backseat, to the extent that our online presence stagnated in the last 10 years. Last year, we went through a few business decisions and decided that everything from offline to online has to be taken to the next level. We are following a natural trajectory, which was planned a while back, before the pandemic.
What are the various collections one can find on the site?
The collections to look forward to on the website are Tabriz, our ethereal Persia-inspired collection from 2019-2020; Shifting Leaves Chevron, a Valaya signature for men and women; and JJ Valaya Accessories, which includes an extravagant array of add-ons for men and women. We have also curated two bespoke experiences for patrons: Jhalamand House, a signature capsule of men’s shirts in cotton and linen; and Ika, a younger sibling to our cult jacket Alika, which people can configure for themselves by choosing the fabric, colour, print, piping, and embroidery detail, on the screen. This reversible jacket—one side is monochromatic and the other is coloured—is an exciting DIY that allows people to enjoy the same quality and luxury in a completely new way. Our 2020-21 collection was also introduced post the showcase in the virtual couture week organised by Fashion Design Council of India in September. The website is eventually going to house garments, accessories, jewellery, lifestyle and home products, and more.
Your designs are often associated with royalty. How did the theme become a part of your design sensibilities?
It’s difficult to explain how or why in the creative realm of things. Design is about being honest with oneself in order to master and present something. I suppose it is the royal nomad in me, with a penchant for art deco.
Tell us about the traditional elements in your collections.
As an Indian designer, I feel it’s my duty to present India to the world in a new way. Secondly, I have always appreciated history, and find great magic in exploring the mysteries of various cultures in order to create something new.
When it comes to Indian styles and patterns, which one is your favourite and why?
I’m impartial towards craft, therefore all appeal to me in one way or the other. The fact that they’re created by hand gives me a high in the world of ordinary.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your work?
We’ve always been a firm believer in sustainability. Things we created decades ago is coming back to us as the new generation wants to wear it. Clients who purchased our garments 25 years ago, come to us today, to get those garments altered in their children’s sizes. This is truly something a brand can be proud of—the test of time. There can’t be a finer example of sustainability than this.
Your favourite wedding ensemble for a bride?
Between lehengas and saris, the best of India can be discovered.
Intimate weddings are expected to see a rise. How can one dress for the occasion without overspending?
This year is going to be all about intimate weddings with people shopping to suit the size of the audience, as most weddings will take place virtually. Having said that, boys and girls still want to dress up. They may not spend as much as they would have in the case of a large wedding, but they would still like to get married in style. After all, it’s the most important day of their lives! Since weddings are now an intimate family affair, subtle, light clothes are being preferred to a heavy attire.
What is the most important thing to keep in mind while dressing up for a royal wedding?
Wedding clothes should be bought keeping in mind the sanctity of the occasion. They are heirloom pieces and should be sustainable. People should invest in garments that are of high quality—something that they can reuse.
What’s your wedding trend forecast for next year?
In terms of colour, it’s still oscillating between the reds and pastels, but we have a distinct third category, and that is ombré lehengas. Also, patrons are gravitating towards lighter clothing, as opposed to heavier ensembles. A significant segment of buyers is inclining towards conscious luxury too.