Saturday, April 28, 2012

JJ Valaya: India's Karl Lagerfeld... & Then Some.

I met JJ Valaya at his house a few years ago with friends. I had no idea who he was but when he told me his name was 'JJ Valaya' I immediately thought 'What kind of a name is that? Is that one name or two? Is he some sort of Indian politician/thug like in the movies?' lol… of course, I quickly moved away from that man. I was clearly presumptuous and not in my right state of mind (in my defense, what is what with that vest JJ? LOL).

From Paris to Bombay: It's a (fashionable) thug life! LOL! 

If Karl (you know, the one from a small fashion empire called Chanel), looked to India for inspiration, then he most likely would have started and ended with JJ Valaya. JJ Valaya's 2011 collection - and his well-defined aesthetic - was clearly an inspiration for Chanel's 'Paris-Bombay 2011/12' show.  While I'm not a fan of comparisons in art; the best way to explain JJ to non-Indian readers is that he is our Karl... and then some.

Unlike our other brilliant couturist Sabyasachi, JJ Valaya is more than just luxury and couture. He is a true artist. And his idea of art (in fashion) is the polar opposite to another legendary Indian, Manish Arora. JJ is sophisticated, regal, and finely tuned. JJ Valaya is tradition - the kind of tradition you want to hold on forever. That doesn't mean it isn't simplistic, contemporary and fresh but JJ's inspiration is clearly the british-raj period and he nails it.

After 20 years, we're starting to see JJ relax a little bit in his creative style. It's a pleasure to watch a legend in Indian fashion - who has focused on Bridal for a long time- come into his own and showcase his artistic flair. His latest release is 'Decoded Paradox' - a collection of black and white photographs from over the years. It's quite simply captivating. This may be the collection that puts this JJ Valaya on the global map. 

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