In the mid-90s, he was perhaps one of the first Indian fashion designers to launch a website. This, at a time when the world had only just been introduced to the wonders of the internet. Later, celebrated couturier and fashion designer JJ Valaya’s focus shifted to brick-and-mortar stores and the expansion of his brand. The virtual world took a back seat. Now, after nearly a decade, valaya.com comes back in an all-new avatar.
The site makes it easy for patrons and admirers all over India to browse and shop Valaya collections from the comfort of their homes. Not just that, the initiative also opens up the brand to a worldwide audience, especially those who don’t have access to Valaya collections in stores. “The website was always a part of my post-sabbatical plans, the only change being that it now precedes the launch of our flagship experience, the World of JJ Valaya, set to open its doors in early 2021. From couture to décor, we want to merge it all and offer something supremely elite,” says the designer.
After a three-year-long sabbatical that gave him time to travel worldwide and “introspect on the spiritual aspects of life,” the designer has come back with his interpretation of the Persian aesthetic. The collection—Tabriz—is rooted in the 16th-19th century Persia. This ode to the mystical culture and arts of Persia now finds itself in the online store. Tabriz, says Valaya, manifests itself in three unique collections, each combining Persian intricacies with the brand’s three perennial loves: its royal legacy, a nomadic spirit, and the glamour of the Art Deco period.
Talking of the Art Deco period, the Valaya signature for men and women— Shifting Leaves Chevron—is another collection that will wow patrons on visiting the online store. This unique design motif is inspired by the chevrons found in Rajasthani architecture and in the Art Deco movement. The pattern and the designs inspired by it will be available as a limited-edition collection every year, promises the designer, adding, “I am aiming to create a space for customers by establishing a bridge between the online and offline worlds. It will create a complete, enriching, bespoke customer experience.”
Besides the two collections, patrons will also be charmed by the JJ Valaya Accessories—a sumptuous array of add-ons for men and women. The women’s segment offers a delightful assortment of fashion jewellery in association with Swarovski, fine silk scarves, and the newly launched signature Valaya Phoenix Belt. For men, there is a plethora of fine silk pocket squares, inlay buttons and cufflinks in gold-plated silver, handcrafted footwear, turbans, stoles, as well as the Phoenix Belt. Customers can also indulge in signature experiences such as ordering bespoke pieces from Jhalamand House—a capsule collection of linen and cotton shirts and kurtas for men, an ode to Valaya’s birthplace, Jodhpur.
But what perhaps takes the cake is that now women patrons can indulge in creating their very own DIY jacket. With IKA, the younger sibling of the legendary Valaya classic—the Alika—that was launched in 2010, a truly bespoke experience can be woven for the customers. They can create, personalise and build their very own IKA jacket by choosing their preferred fabrics, embroideries, prints, and finishes. The IKA jacket is also reversible, thus offering patrons a unique chance to play with colours and patterns that take them from day into night, if required, seamlessly.
Described as “the future of the past” by the erstwhile maharani of Kapurthala, opulence defines him and the website is a portrayal of that typical Valaya ethos. It is a virtual experience, which is as magnificent and elegant as it is cutting edge and futuristic. After all, he himself has this to say of his luxuriant oeuvre: “Don’t come to me just to pick up something for a wedding or a party. Come to me when you are looking for that final, dazzling moment.”
The website is a portrayal of the typical Valaya ethos. It is a virtual experience, as magnificent and elegant as it is cutting edge and futuristic.