The Royal Nomad. 2.

More from the series. Dusky India meets auspicious India. Macchiato meets Vermillion. Exotic meets passion. Rich chocolate meets fiery Red.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

Standard

The Royal Nomad.1.

I consider myself so incredibly privileged to be able to create the kind of grandeur that I can… and India is the sole reason for it. For this beautiful country of mine provides me both, the craftspersons to create and the connoisseur to consume these elaborate and elegant interpretations of my sense of timeless style!

I’ve always believed in opposites when it comes to inspirations year after year… imbibing the crafts and culture from one exotic part of the world and then infusing it with the unrelenting mystique of my own country eventually gives birth to what i call the look of Valaya for that season and to my constant, The Royal Nomad. There is great magic in both, the Royal and the Nomad, and yet, no greater contradiction exists…and it is this difference that i revel and give shape to my dreams in real time.

At present, I am working on my couture collection for the 25th year of JJ VALAYA which happens to be this year; till the drama unfurls in a few months, I thought I’d share these images that I made very recently featuring two of my favourite creative expressions in a singular frame….. My Couture and my Home lines.

Oh Glorious India… I love you so….

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

 

Standard

Leela Raas

If you happen to travel to Udaipur, chances are you’ll be staying in or around the Pichola Lake (which is really the key reason you’d be there in the first place). There are several hotels, ranging from authentic Royal fare to India Modern. And then there’s the Leela.

The Leela Group is India’s creator of modern royal experiences in hospitality, and though, this aspect of India is celebrated in different forms ranging from elegant to trying-too-hard by a few of the other leading hotel chains of India, none has managed to present the grandeur, detail and luxury levels that the Leela has achieved. Interestingly enough though, I’ve often heard two opinions about the Leela properties, some consider it a bit nouveau and loud…and others swear by its exquisite detailing and the luxurious  experiences. Personally, I believe that the Leela lays it out like none other… and my stay there was a joyous testimony to all that I’ve believed in about the ethos of the brand. Sure it can seem overwhelming to some, but were not our palaces the most intimidating of all? It may also seem busy to some, but we must not forget that India is intrinsically a land of maximalists: Look at everything around us…Our food; Complex flavours and a multitude of spices….Our temples: years spent in carving the toughest rocks into masterpieces… Our miniatures: Painstakingly worked on with even the finest detail not escaping the artist’s fine brush…. Our festivals: veering between loud and colourful and celebrated with a manic frenzy… Our clothes: exotic weaves, rich embroideries and lush silks!… I could go on and on… What part of India is minimalist? I feel that what the Leela essentially (and very generously) manages is do is celebrate the real India, albeit in a new, modern  and unapologetic way, whilst also respectfully honouring its craftspersons, its artists, its colours and its very spirit (you won’t find cheap knock-offs of any Indian craft here!).

A visit to all their properties is highly recomended, and the Leela Udaipur, whilst being another wonderful example of the levels of luxury one can dare to venture into amidst the minimalist (pun intended) laments of the modern times we live in, is also a veritable tribute to a great city and its mystical & rich past.

I do hope you enjoy the images that I have made and someday, the property itself.

Indulge!

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

Standard

Transported!

It happens often… that one keeps seeking treasures elsewhere even whilst they exist right under our noses OR more commonly, the ironical belief that if something is in the vicinity of your home, city or even in your country, it’s simply not as special as something which is hard to reach, often even impossible. Its human psychology; we covet what is distant and seemingly hard to get and in turn don’t even realise what we’re missing in the easily accessible.

Last weekend was a testimony to this reality for me.

For some years, my dear friend, Hotelier Tarun Thakral, had been insisting that i come by and see what he’s done with his collection of vintage cars. Partially due my schedule but mostly out of sheer laziness, I kept my visit pending but finally succumbed to the guilt of not supporting a friend’s initiative and more importantly, not celebrating his dream with him. It just had to be done! After a short drive with my family (40 minutes out of Delhi on the road to Jaipur), I finally arrive at a large modern building, but nothing quite prepared me for what lay inside. Never had I seen such an amazing private effort made for the good of many….. never had i imagined that one individual could create such a beautiful space for his passion and then throw it open for others to savour. Curiosity and the passion to collect homogenous objects, the search for the rare, unique and often elusive is what impassions all collectors. Over two decades of research about the evolution of the modes of transportation forms the plinth of the collection in possession of the Trust run by Tarun, making the Heritage Transport Museum India’s first comprehensive transport museum.

The museum showcases the evolution of transportation in India and sets a benchmark in interpretation, exhibition and in communication and also houses Art and Art Objects inspired by Automobiles. As the first private museum of its scale in India, it is conceived as a didactive space that engages visitor participation in learning while remaining a family experience. A built up area of over 90,000 square feet of air conditioned space spread over four floors houses the exhibition galleries, library and reference centre, conference rooms, mini auditorium, the museum shop, and a restaurant facility.

Facts aside, whilst the museum enjoys a significant patronage of many, I can assure you that most in Delhi and India would still not be aware of this incredible space and the passionate spirit that resonates in its every square foot. My photographs could express my sentiments more accurately, but a strong word of advise, don’t lose any more time to transport yourself to this beautiful labour of love. And if you plan weekends, you’ll meet the man himself there and his lovely wife Mandeep, who will (literally) have you eating out of her hands!

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

Standard

A Spirit Boundless

Like most progressive fashion houses globally, we have always had a desire to extend our DNA into the realm of luxury Lifestyles. Like most progressive fashion houses, we did so by introducing a line of fine furniture, signature tapestries and cushions a couple of years back, making us the first Indian fashion house ever to create a dedicated and comprehensive experience for home with a space of its own. Like most progressive fashion houses, we vehemently celebrated our country through this expression. But, unlike most others, we also celebrate craft in its entirety in the JJ VALAYA Home collection.

In a modern world which has embraced technology and minimalism to an almost disturbing level, it is perhaps only the arts and crafts that will keep mankind’s connection with its past alive and prospering. Therefore, as creators, whilst it is important for us to keep commerce and ’trends’ in mind, it is also our moral responsibility to embrace our past as unabashedly as we can and reinterpret it as much as we should to make it relevant for today. Looking around, you will notice that a commercially successful Ralph Lauren Home still highlights the American way of life to the hilt, a Versace Home celebrates Baroque Italy in all its ornate splendour whereas an Armani Casa subtly advocates its modern minimalism, a Rifat Ozbek (once a well-known fashion designer of Turkish descent, now completely focuses on Home Interiors and especially on his cushion collection Yastik) whereas an Issey Miyake indulged in a unique cultural handshake with Finnish company Iitalla to create the ‘Iittala X Issey Miyake Home Collection’ which combines Scandinavian and Asian craftsmanship with clean aesthetics to create a balanced ambiance. Essentially, wherever you look, they’ve all chosen to celebrate craft and their roots in their own unique ideologies.

Creativity is a fascinating journey and I refuse to be shackled by limitations of any kind. JJ VALAYA Home is just about warming up to create masterpieces inspired by craft and detail, interpreted of course by the Royal Nomad in me, albeit with a strong Indian spirit. Though there is a wave of minimalist cool that exists in India, we are intrinsically a country of maximalists (a cursory glance at our festivals, weddings, food, architecture, clothes etc. will only reinforce my point). Yet, we are also a modern evolving nation and what makes this so exciting for me is the ability and opportunity to create a line which evokes the very spirit of India, using the crafts and expertise that India is replete with, and simultaneously, to intriguingly appeal to a mature global audience. Overt ethnicity may be passé but Inspiration most certainly is not!

Needless to say, this is one journey I intend enjoying, and most certainly, to my heart’s content.

All images above are of products from JJ VALAYA Home.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

Standard

Jaypore

Whilst my erratic and ever changing schedule has bestowed upon me a degree of remorse for not being able to accept the generous invitation from Samir Andrea Kasliwal for his birthday celebrations and also the royal one from the Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur for Holi festivities at the palace, I am left with no option but to try and create peace within by reminiscing some sweet moments from the past.

From one of my recent trips to Jaipur (or Jaypore as it was known in British India), and before this memory gently ambles into the mind’s recesses, I thought it wise to share my joy on my very brief visit to Bar Palladio. This lovely space (not surprisingly run by a European), besides being an aesthete’s delight, was quite the gastronomic discovery, especially since one did not expect Jaipur to throw up anything like it. Much recommended to anyone visiting the Pink City… Go and enjoy the exotic embrace of the perfect shades of Turquoise, Teal and Indigo whilst sipping on a fine aperitif and savouring delectable Hors d’oeuvre. (Which I delightfully indulged in, courtesy the company and conversation of my dear friend and restaurateur extraordinaire, AD Singh).

Personally, I’ve always loved that wonderful twist that happens to the expected when expats set up something in India… the synergy of an alien mind fuses magically with the environment that only India can offer and, more often than not, throws up some wonderful hybrid experiences. The reverse also holds true, and unlike the past, where every immigrant fom Bangladesh and Nepal invariably opened a very sad, aesthetically deprived, agarbati smelling “authentic” Indian restaurant, today, one can find fine gastronomical experiences in various parts of the world run and owned by Indians.

I’ve always looked forward to such instances of osmosis…of food, of music, of soul… of love… to me, the coming together of beings, of cultures is extremely exciting and the byproducts of all such mating are generally exotic in nature. More of this spirit is required in the world today … the oneness of humanity, above race or religion has never been more relevant before.

Finally, a very Happy Holi to all of you ( for those of you who’re not aware, it’s the festival of colours in India and Nepal which signifies the triumph of good over evil and also heralds the onset of spring)… so bring in as much colour as you can in your life as well as in others lives. It really is a beautiful world full of beautiful souls… just look at all with different eyes and you’ll be amazed at the magic that you’ll be able to witness.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

Standard

All that glitters is not Gold

I have to admit that I am a die-hard fan of all things burnished and antique simply because I truly believe that they impart a great deal of inherent character and timelessness as opposed to the overtly new and shiny. So imagine the first thought that crossed my mind when one of the world’s largest crystal companies, Swarovski approached me to create a line of fashion jewellery with them…Glitter, Glitter and more Glitter! Except…it did not take long for me to vanquish the fleeting moment and instead, embrace an entirely new one: being convinced of using a Swarovski product which did not shine and perhaps, which most people did not even know, existed in their portfolio…Pearls!

Now, as some of you may know, I have a history with Swarovski; Years back, when they came into India, I was appointed their first ever Brand Ambassador and ever since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with them and creating stunning couture which has dazzled all with its brilliance (pun not intended). Swarovski is a flag bearer in the crystallised realm and I know for a fact that nothing comes remotely close to them when it comes to their quality in products they excel in… add to this the fact that they’re a constantly evolving brand and coming out with amazing concepts year after year only makes this association that much more energised. However, this one time, when I decided to move away from crystals and instead work with a beautiful assortment of asymmetric pearls, blended stunningly with oxidised gold metal and highlighted with subtle accents of Black diamond crystals, it was also about the coming together of Austrian perfection and the iconic craftsmanship of the jewellers of Jaipur. Needless to say, the result of this confluence was spectacular!

In life, I believe that to surprise is important…. but perhaps the real art lies in surprising yourself first before trying to prove anything to the world. In fact, this is probably the core fundamental of great design and art; it was also the sole belief that guided me into creating this line. To work with a crystal company and yet showcase a relatively lesser known facet of its prowess to the world can be challenging, but can often also result in a beautiful language. However, whilst this may seem like the beginning of a beautiful new idea, I believe that it is also the byproduct of a very successful old association, and one, where I am also looking forward to for many more seasons of creativity and discovery.

But for now, I’d simply like to revel in thoughts of sensual Indian duskiness accentuated with the lustre of gunmetal pearls and gold…of hints of turquoise with a kiss of black diamonds. Thank you Swarovski, for the brilliance and for giving us creators a chance to shine! Thank you India, for ever surprising all with your riches! Thank you both, for giving me my world, where I continue to have fun and derive immense joy from the beauty of contradictions.

The new and the timeless can indeed coexist… atleast in my world.

Photos courtesy SWAROVSKI. The Ranas of Kachchh collection of Fashion Jewellery by JJ Valaya in association with Swarovski.

Standard