JJ Valaya on ‘Tabriz’, his Persia-inspired couture collection

Special Correspondent (New Delhi): The New Delhi-based designer is back after a three-year interval with a Swarovski collaboration that combines motifs from Persian hunting rugs and Art Deco patterns. When inspiration hits JJ Valaya, he doesn’t plunge it all into one collection -” I like to explore the gradation and assimilate it for at least a year,” says the Delhi-based designer.

In his latest couture collection, Tabriz, which released on Saturday with an extravagant show at The Imperial New Delhi, he pulls from the one-time capital of ruling Persian dynasties. Valaya has spent the last three years on interlude but has kept busy nevertheless. Earlier this year, he was creative director and mentor of Be Bahrain, a craft-based project that was exhibited at the Bahrain Art Fair. In 2018, he celebrated 25 years of his brand with The Alika Project, where he collaborated with 24 other designers (including Suket Dhir, Pero, Ekaya, Antar Agni and Amrapali) on his signature jacket.

He was also part of the Elephant Parade, designing the Kashmir Ki Kali elephant that was on display in Sloane Square, Chelsea.

Like someone who spends a lot of time and effort on research, aya says he turns to his massive library for details and information. Valaya says he goes library for immense details and information. However, he has never read a book in his life, he is a visual reader! That’s my world, so I turn to photo books,” he explains, adding,
“I have been fascinated by Persia and its exhibition across cultures. You won’t see a design directly chosen up or clone, but there are details that provide to that part of the world.”

The 42 outfits in the collection —— featuring lehengas, saris, skirts, peplum blouses, sherwanis, and bandhgalas — are split into three distinct lines. The first is titled ‘Farsh’, inspired by Persian hunting rugs which are distinguished by their colors and designs of flora and fauna. Second, “Khayyam’ draws from the craft of the royal tent makers, and features antique mirror-work, rough cotton yarn, and appliqué. “I have combined these inspirations with my love for Art Deco, and come up with a linear/ornamental form,” he says.
Third, “Naqshband’ is the grandest of the lot: florals in metallic threads and beads, borders with antique crystals and pearls, on rich reds and sage greens, in silks, velvets, and tulle.

The Whole collection has been created in collaboration with Swarovski, Swarovski, and Valaya associated with almost 17 years back, when they entered into the Indian market.“I was their first brand ambassador; I don’t think I have done a single couture line without using their crystals since then,” he says. The highlight of the show was an embroidered burgundy lehenga crusted with almost 12,000 crystals. “We have had a lot of fun combining new age mediums such as Swarovski, with age-old techniques [of surface embellishment] to create our own DNA,” concludes Valaya.

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