One of India’s bridal biggies, JJ Valaya, was in town for Bon Vivant, an exhibition held in association with t2. From creating a tropical forest theme wedding under the banner of JJ Valaya Luxury Weddings to showcasing a stunning line at Delhi Couture Week, the designer is a busy man. t2 caught up with him to discuss the fashion industry in India...
Where do you think the Indian fashion industry is headed?
It is on an upswing at the moment. Twenty years ago, when I came into this industry, there was absolutely nothing. People of our country today strongly believe in India and its worth. Fashion today is not a utility. It is a want and it stimulates desire.
The fashion industry is thriving on the mega Indian weddings and weddings will always happen. For that reason, glamorous outfits will always be in demand! I also feel that Indian designers today are not designing to please people, their designs are a sense of self-expression. They dive into their souls, understand themselves, their beliefs and their styles and project that on their designs and make them wearable and quirky. They offer their clients a little bit of themselves.
I think India has the potential to become the hub of world couture. There is a demand for Indian outfits in places you can’t even imagine! We have a booming market and that demand is stimulating and encouraging the supply.
Fashion apart, you are passionate about photography too...
Photography allows me to be fearless. As a child, I painted and as I grew older, I developed a passion for photography. Art is in a different realm as compared to fashion — it is also a great leveller. I recently launched Decoded Paradox, a portraiture book of my photographs, inspired by Delhi. That city has given me everything I have today. It is about Delhi as it was 500 years ago during the Mughal and Rajput times and Delhi today. I attempted to relive the olden times. The challenge was to strike a balance without making it look gimmicky.
What relevance does fashion week have to a city?
Fashion week is hugely relevant to a country but I don’t see much of a relevance to a city. And when I talk about the country, only credible events like Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week and Delhi Couture Week have some value, the other minor ones are simply derogatory. These shows are beneficial to upcoming designers because showcasing amongst the best is a great platform for them to demonstrate their worth.
Finally, what do you have to say to encourage aspiring designers…
Believe in India and believe in yourself. Never look left or right, your only benchmark of evolution should be yourself!