Epitomising ottoman royalty, Indian designer JJ Valaya found inspiration in the mesmerising Turkey to create his awe-inspiring Fall-Winter 2012 collection
By: Akanshaa Maker
Posted on: April 6, 2012
Inspiration often finds you, instead of one having to search for it. It was one such incident when Indian designer JJ Valaya, during his visit to Turkey, was introduced to the glorious Ottoman Empire that instantly struck a chord with him.
The royal connection
Coming from a royal city, Mr.Valaya found no trouble getting accustomed to the regal hues and elegant colour schemes of the Turkish. “Having been born in the city of Jodhpur, royalty perhaps, rather mystically, has become an integral part of my being. I treat my work and collections to be larger than life (boring to be normal) and make sure that each of my couture pieces celebrates the epitome of luxury and the finest in the country, something almost worthy of being part of one’s heirloom,” he said. The royal outlook is not only projected in Mr Valaya’s couture collections, but in his pret lines too, through modern, cleaner lines though.
Fuelling a creative process that was meant to be, Istanbul stirred a more than rare emotion in the designer. The Ottomans, with their glorious history, triggered thoughts that soon translated into an inspiration that paved the way for his new collection.
The designer visited Ottoman palaces and extensively researched the Turkish history through books and the Internet to develop a solid groundwork for this collection. He thus created ‘Azrak’, his Fall Winter 2012 collection, which translates into ‘rare and uncommon’ in Turkish – a suitable title for this collection. This collection truly sets itself apart by interestingly combining history with key factors of a classic urban wardrobe. In his own words, the designer describes this collection as "Celebratory, modern, nostalgic", one that eludes the anticipated for a slightly unusual yet widely acceptable range of contemporary couture.
The fine details
This collection begins with a monochromatic colour scheme of ivories and black, gradually transforming into varied colour palettes. The collection explores unconventional art and craft based forms such as mother of pearl inlay, Turkish miniatures, Iznik ceramics, dramatic weaves of the Sultan’s robes, exotic birds and graphic calligraphy. Custom print leggings and breeches are paired with jackets in quilted contemporary pieces with traditional intricacies. A surprise appearance by denim, used creatively, adds a touch of modernity when used with velvets and gossamer silks.
Staying true to the original Turkish forms, motifs and materials for this collection was the primary aim of Mr Valaya. But how easy or difficult was it for him to make that clear distinction between royal Indian and Turkish designs? “Primarily based on art forms on ceramic, fabric, paper, leather and wood, the Azrak collection takes one on a journey of a rich and perhaps forgotten era, albeit, in a modern and crisp manner. However the implementation of this inspiration remains using Indian craftsmen and techniques. So in a way, it’s the best of two dramatic worlds,” he said.
Positioning this collection as ‘The Couture of Pret’, it steals the senses with Mr Valaya’s renowned embroideries and ornate detailing. The complex textures and exotic patterns project a gracious mix of relevance with history, and whet’s this season’s appetite for ethnic exotica.
The collection includes a wide range of jackets (not forgetting the signature Alika), shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses, breeches as well as the quintessential Indian favourite – the sari - with a twist and other fusion trends. A selected, grand range of menswear also constitutes the collection.
Many designers nowadays create collections that look spectacular on the runway, but can hardly be worn off the ramp. This is where Azrak outshines the other collections, as this ready-to-wear couture line not only personifies opulence on the ramp, but also makes it a glamourous off-the-runway wear with its eclectic amalgamation of classic and contemporary.
A decade of royal designs
The year 2012 is a special one for JJ Valaya as it marks the completion of two decades for the brand. Several celebrations are lined up through the year, which started with the showcase of Azrak as the Grand Finale for the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Fall Winter 2012.
As proud as a parent can be, Mr Valaya gives a further glimpse into the celebrations. “Future events will include the launch of a very special limited edition financial year calendar where the stalwarts and key players of the Indian fashion industry celebrate our 20 years with JJ Valaya; a very special coffee table book along with a grand retrospective show towards the end of the year; several other special events during the year which will revolve around inspiring associations with royal families; and also the introduction of JJ Valaya Vintage (a label which will revisit the Valaya archives and recreate iconic pieces although in a wearable and new way) amongst others.”
Mr Valaya is probably one of the few Indian designers who know what a ‘royal’ garment means, and who strives to recreate it to the hilt. No wonder that JJ Valaya is one of the most renowned Indian brands we have today. A royal gun salute is in order for this magnificent brand!