When you are passionate about what you do, every aspect of your life turns into an inspirational journey. And for the past 30 years, the czar of couture, JJ Valaya has been celebrating life through myriad stories filled with soulful memories.
A journey well-written and celebrated across the globe, JJ Valaya’s masterpieces have been adorned by the very best including Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Kangana Ranaut and Cate Blanchett to name a few. Today, as he completes three decades of his perennial love – label JJ Valaya, the couturier will present his all-new couture collection Alma, at the 15th edition of FDCI India Couture Week.
In conversation with News 18, JJ Valaya talks about completing 30 years in the industry, why the digital age is a boon, and how Indian couture connects perfectly with weddings. Excerpts from the interview:
30 years of JJ Valaya and 15 years of India Couture Week must bring back a lot of memories. A moment in time that you realised that this is why you love what you do.
It is not a single moment but so many moments across these 30 years that have always sort of given me great joy and made me realise why I do what I do. It is the challenge to create something new and more uplifting than what you did the last time around. It is the amazing feeling of seeing somebody feel transformed and very happy after she has worn something you have created. It is a feeling of euphoria after a fantastic show where months and months of hard work comes together for 20 minutes for a select audience, but it is a culmination of every little detail from clothes, makeup to hair, set, sound, light. It is a complete experience that one takes away.
Couture is synonymous with JJ Valaya, how have you managed to keep the brand relevant in the age of social media.
I think the answer to this really lies in being passionate about what one does. And when you are passionate you are honest to yourself and to your audience. I think that’s the only principle that works. Once you are convinced that what you do is unique and special then one has to keep focussing on it and take it to the next level. Excelling season after season, looking forward to the next collection, creating something that will surprise even yourself and then of course enjoying the appreciation that comes after you have created something fabulous.
I always look at the digital era technology as a boon. And as long as you take everything positively, then the only way of growth is upwards. Like someone rightly said, with the internet opening up and social media becoming so active, every designer now has a store in every corner of the world, something he or she could never afford otherwise. So, I think one should only look positively at all these things about the reach, about the appreciation, about the penetration your creativity manages to achieve using new age technology.
Your travels resonate with your collections. For the ICW showcase what stories will you be narrating through your designs?
This year’s collection [Alma] is my second visit to Spain. However, it also coincides with my 30th anniversary, so we have also picked up simple nuances and motifs from across our collections of 30 years. And have merged them with this season’s collection to create an all-new experience. So, Alma, which means soul in Spanish, is this year’s offering and I am sure it is going to be absolutely spectacular and special.
Does showcasing post pandemic feel like starting afresh? What should one look forward to on the ramp?
I think the pandemic was a learning curve for each one of us to be more appreciative, more grateful, more focussed on what we truly enjoy doing and excel in it. I was on a sabbatical for two years before the pandemic and was sort of my hard reset where I completely, you know renewed and rejuvenated my entire philosophy towards the work I am doing. So, of course, everybody is looking forward to being back on the ramp because we all missed physical shows and the whole kind of drama of putting all the elements together into one 20–25-minute presentation.
Couture in India is always considered as bridal wear, have we moved beyond this notion or is it a myth?
Indian couture will almost revolve around weddings because that’s when we truly celebrate and live life to the fullest, and that’s when people really want to spend. It is that period of time when we actually get down to delve deep into our arts and crafts and create masterpieces that can truly be akin to museum pieces. So well Indian couture, yes, will always have a very strong connection to brides and grooms. But this is neither a notion nor a myth, it is a reality, it is a fact. And of course, there are always a lot of people who also buy couture for collecting masterpieces in their wardrobe. But invariably, couture always finds its way onto platforms where everybody is truly enjoying living the moment.
JJ Valaya’s couture collection will be showcased at JW Marriott, New Delhi at 8:30 pm.
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