Couturier JJ Valaya has had a fashion journey spanning two decades, parading his creations on runways across the world. But hes in no mood to slow down. Rather, the Jodhpur-born veteran of the fashion scene is going full steam ahead, with his new 10,000sqft flagship store, which was unveiled to the capitals swish set amidst much fanfare recently.
JJ Valaya Life, as the retail address of the label is known, has dedicated floors for mens-wear and womenswear. There are spaces tucked in between for light and glass installations, a line of books handpicked by him and photographs he shot over 19 years, featuring models sporting his signature. All this is combined with home decor pieces carted back from his travels abroad. Its good to get into a nice retail environment which exudes a sense of space, remarks Valaya.
So, nestling in the store are all his five labels including Valaya Muse, Valaya Quantum, Valaya Base and Valaya Home.
| Valaya has collaborated on a line of light installations with Gautam Seth and Prateek Jain of Klove
Valaya truly inspires fierce emotions. Youre either a diehard fan of the couturiers flamboyant creations. Or youre a tad scared about carrying it off. Its difficult to blend into the woodwork when youre flaunting anything made by Valaya. Says designer Payal Jain, who attended the store opening: He has a strong handwriting which makes you immediately identify his outfits. His designs are definitely larger than life.
Currently the 43-year-old is in a mood to spice things up even more. For his biggest-spending clients theres La Chambre, the by appointment only chamber, reserved for his single edition label Valaya Muse (Rs 14 lakh and more).
Says Hemant Sagar of designer duo Lecoanet Hemant: A concept store represents a lifestyle as imagined by a designer and includes his fantasies. He has even convinced me to open my own store.
To add to his repertoire, Valaya has a new range of glass and light installations on display at his tony store. He has collaborated with glass maestros Gautam Seth and Prateek Jain of Klove, creating chandeliers with finial-shaped lamps and other interesting adornments. The starting price of this collection is Rs 1.5 lakh.
Indeed Valaya is going all out to surprise his patrons and simultaneously garner a new fan base. He has launched the Alika Jacket, a limited edition silhouette, only 12 pieces of which will be produced for a single style or edition.
| Ethos, a collection of design and art titles, has been handpicked by the designer and is on sale at his flagship store
A different style will be launched every month flaunting fresh embroidery techniques, colour and pattern. So, while the current edition of Alika is based on jamawar, the next one is expected to be inspired by pietra dura or the art of creating images using coloured stones. The Alika is a made-to-order garment with a waiting period ranging from 60 to 90 days. Its also made to measure. So, the style never changes but the proportions do, according to client specifications, points out Valaya.
However, thats not all for the designer whos juggling many balls at the same time. Hes tied up with CMYK, a Roli Books initiative that focuses on art and design titles. This association named Ethos consists of a range of volumes that Valaya has handpicked and is available for sale at a library-like space on the first floor of his retail outfit.
Keeping in mind how interiors are getting bigger in the Indian design space, Valaya has introduced a new line called The Home of the Traveller. While he had something called Valaya Home already, which boasted of decor items specially designed and executed by him, The Home of the Traveller is a different ballgame altogether.
This label gives vent to the couturiers passion for sprucing up spaces using items that end up in his luggage from numerous antique and flea markets across the world. I find flea markets fascinating and scour them. Also, my love for interiors had to be taken to the next level and these items connect the customer with the Valaya brand, reasons the designer. As part of this collection, you will find original antique items such as kilims from Uzbekistan that share rack space with vintage ceramic bulls.
Interestingly, its not a wrap for Valaya yet. Next is his first photography exhibition in December that will not be fashion related. The shutterbug in him is sincerely hoping that the weather gets better so that he can commence shooting. Also in the pipeline is expanding the Valaya Home signature, which translates into stand-alone stores in months to come.
Evidently, the designer has a lot lined up. This time, I am not holding back at all.