ELLE First Look: In Conversation With JJ Valaya From His NIFT Days To Lakmē Fashion Week X FDCI 2024

JJ Valaya’s fashion journey started as a student at NIFT and the couterier is now one of the top designers in India. His interests range from photography, jewellery designing, tapestry, to interior designing. JJ’s designs feature intricate embroidery on luxurious fabrics making it perfect for bridal couture. He’s also one of the founding members of FDCI and the first global brand ambassador of the jewellery giant Swarovski. The collection was inspired by the evolution of photography from black and white to sepia to hand-stained and digitised images. It was a journey of colours told through clothes. Valaya presented his Winter/Festive collection at Lakmē Fashion Week 2011 titled ‘TASVEER’ for which he garnered much praise. JJ is back at the Lakmē Fashion Week X FDCI 2024 and ELLE had a chat with the designer to know more about his vision for the collection.

ELLE: What was your vision while creating your collection for Lakmē Fashion Week X FDCI?

JJ Valaya: The vision is very clear, it is a brand vision. No brand does anything on a micro level. The core DNA of a brand should never change. That’s what people love, that’s what people have appreciated and that’s what people have invested into, not just from now but from the last thirty three years. The core DNA of the brand remains what it has been and so our vision is very clear. We want to create a collection which is evolutionary in nature and which takes the game up several notches high from the last time, but is in our domain. In this case, we were making something that is made from a completely new fabric. The fact remains that yarn made out of pet bottles, made into a fabric which can be reused all over again into a completely new collection, I think that is awe inspiring and extremely exciting for me.

ELLE: In three words, describe your upcoming collection for Lakmē Fashion Week X FDCI 2024.

JJ: Royalty, momadic spirit and the glamour of the art deco period.

ELLE: Describe the feeling of seeing your sketches come to life during a fashion show. How has it changed from the first time you saw one of your designs become a reality?

JJ: This feeling is what our business is all about. The day you lose this feeling of excitement is the day you should exit the business and I’m so happy that there is nothing that excites me more than design and my stratosphere includes fashion, interiors, furniture, tapestry, jewellery, accessories and my photography which I do off and on. All of this is what completes me and I can’t imagine getting up everyday and going to my studio, sitting with my team and just going forward and doing things which we need to do, which we want to do and which we know we will do. One has to emanate from a want which of course must collaborate with a need and then it is all about portraying a beautiful collection together. I do not want to look left and right, I just want to look forward and know what I did better.

The first time I saw my design become a reality was way back in 1991 at the NIFT graduation show as a collection. The feeling was phenomenal. While I was at NIFT, one garment that I had done won a very prestigious award in Paris and in fact I was the first Indian fashion student to win a major award. No feeling can replace that because I was a student and I had put together something based on a brief and I was competing against a lot of people and that too in Paris, which is the Mecca of fashion and I won.

Also Read: ELLE First Look: Gaurav Jai Gupta’s Label Akaaro Brings A Modern, Sustainable And Urban Collection To Lakmé Fashion Week 2024

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