`Fashion is about creating moods'
J.J. Valaya does not go by what's in or what's out
a model wearing one of his creations. Photo: Reuters
A PICTURE is worth a thousand words. But ask J.J. Valaya about any of his designs and the description runs like a novel! Naturally, since there is so much deliberation that goes into every stitch, seam and silhouette that he creates.
"Fashion is fun, but it is also serious business," he says, throwing up his hands as if he is ready to break into bhangra. Though his strong point has been clever classics that don't get blown away by gusty cross-cultural winds, Valaya feels that in certain markets it's diffusion that's in demand. "The ideology behind the diffusion label is to retain the same inspiration, quality and craftsmanship as the haute lines only the look is more young and slightly watered down. See, you don't have to be at a wedding to wear Valaya," he smiles.
Known for his dramatic drapes, intricate craftsmanship and luxurious fabrics, this chartered accountant-turned-designer says: "In my 14 years of design, royalty has been an absolute essential. Perhaps because of my Jodhpur roots. The colours, weaves, craftsmanship, the history... continue to fascinate me." But royalty and mainstream design, do they synchronise? "We design on the premise that everyone has aspiration. Fashion that way is an interesting medium to actually interpret one's aspiration and fantasy."
For someone to whom colour is an important part of design vocabulary, it's strange that Valaya's maiden line was in white. "Yeah, really. I can't believe it myself. When I graduated from NIFT, my first ever line was in pristine white. And I remember wowing to friends that even in future, white will dominate my creations. But with time, I explored the realm of colour and shifted my stance. I don't believe in the concept of `what's in' and `what's out.' To me, it's hogwash. Fashion is about creating moods. Colours change with the mood. `In' and `out' are fancy terms that don't figure in my vocabulary."
One of the few designers to organise solo fashion shows in the early 1990s, Valaya is quite critical about the way ramp culture has evolved over the years. "It has changed dramatically, thanks to events such as the Lakme India Fashion Week. Ramp shows are in essence trade events. Nevertheless, there are designers who resort to catwalk gimmickry. But the fact remains that such attention-grabbing tricks will fizzle out after a while."
But isn't sensuality overriding style in the present milieu? "True, that's because Western sensibilities are overtaking Indian ones," is the pointed reply. With a mild grimace, he adds: "It's sad. And that too, while the West is open about it, we tend to pretend. But I'm certain all these fads will wear out. The future of fashion lies in recreating our crafts. And when I say crafts, I don't mean embroidery alone. I'm talking about everything fabric development, cuts, embellishments, dyeing techniques, etc."
Valaya (right, with turban) spells vintage
On Indian designers making it on foreign shores, Valaya says: "There's hardly any presence. But I foresee drastic developments in the next ten years. I've just launched my store in Dubai. But as I said, styles have to be tweaked a bit to match local tastes. We can handle that. I also welcome the entry of global brands into the Indian market. Competition is fun. It will help us better our work."
Does he anticipate a harmonious blend of art and technology in the future? "As of now, I'm savvy only with the Internet. That to me is the ultimate technology," he gushes. Then continues with a serious look, "Yes, technology has a major role to play in printmaking and layouts. It gives us the advantage to manipulate designs with multiple colours, sketches and alterations. It helps us conceive the final look."
And what exactly is the essence of his look? "Timelessness," he says smiling from ear-to-ear.
The Valaya woman
Oh! She's a fun woman, but not a wannabe. She's not the type to walk into a store and say, `I'd like to wear designer from head to toe.' Instead, she's the type who would pick up a pair of jeans and team it with a designer jacket or bustier. She is the type to endorse individualistic statements in fashion.
T. KRITHIKA REDDY
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