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

 

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Factory Findings.

Moving to a new factory and all the shifting can throw up some interesting montages. An isolated staircase, rolls of butter paper of hand traces for embroidery, an army of mannequins (some rather well endowed) and a lonesome one on her own.

Art exists everywhere 🙂

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

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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.

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The Ranas of Kachchh

I love India! Its the very basis of all the creative work that i do… yet, I also love multiculturalism and so I forever delve into other cultures and pick elements  from them and then infuse them with elements from India to create an all new experience. My current collection, THE RANAS OF KACHCHH is a medley of influences from the Ranas of Nepal and the Nomads of Kachchh (Kutch) in Gujarat, India. Thought I’d post some images of a recent couture shoot that we did in Jaisalmer, at the fabulous Suryagarh Hotel. I’ve written about Jaisalmer and the Suryagarh in earlier posts (so please do go back to them to learn more about both), but these images, which i thoroughly enjoyed making demanded to be shared. The clothes and the location both celebrate my core ethos, that of the Royal Nomad.

Blessed to be born in India… I never have to worry about running out of inspiration… ever!

 

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

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The Backstage Journals

Another show done last night, the action backstage throbbing with an enviable energy. Between unrehearsed moments, unpretentious laughter, beautiful couture and beautiful models, the magic continued to unfurl in all its glory.

I love everything about backstage… as I’d said earlier, the very soul of fashion beats here. And then it all transforms….

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players”
Shakespeare’s words ring true…
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
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Uneasy lies the head that wears a Turban

One of my vivid memories emanates from outside the departure terminal of Johannesburg airport about 20 years back. Those were the days I used to wear a turban. I was wheeling my luggage towards the entrance when I heard a loud screech of car tyres; on turning back to see what happened, i noticed a woman had stopped her car in the middle of the road and was subsequently charging towards me literally screaming “excuse me” several times over. I stopped and she came up to me, breathless, and asked, “I just wanted to know how you tie that…that thing on your head”? Clearly she was both, impressed and intrigued by my turban (and i actually did do a good job at tying one back in the days)… I was amused (she had created a mini jam of sorts by leaving her car in the middle of the road) and proceeded to enlighten her about the art of the drape around my head. She smiled, complimented and hugged me and left, and as I proceeded to walk into the terminal, i could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience.

Fast forward to the recent years and the same turban evokes a different sentiment for many westerners; that of fear and anguish… of a concern that beneath that handsome drape lurks a devious and dangerous mind. Its disheartening to see where mankind is headed… with one’s personal appearance now seeming enough to denote the character of the individual. History tells us another story though…Communities with prominent turban-wearing traditions can be found in the Indian Subcontinent, Afghanistan, South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, the Near East, Central Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and parts of the Swahili Coast. In fact, in ancient times, even the Greeks donned a distinctive style of turbans. Additionally, turbans have often been worn by nobility, regardless of religious background. In Kenya, the Akurinu, a Christian denomination, wear turbans as religious headgear. The official name of the denomination is The Kenya Foundation Of The Prophets Church or else Holy Ghost Church. Both men and women wear white turbans. The Sikh (the community that I belong to) turban, known as the Dastar (or Pagg), is used to show others that they represent the embodiment of Sikh teachings, the love of the Guru and dogma to do good deeds.

In an idealistic world (and I hope we get there really fast), we need to learn to value people for who they are and not from where they’re from. If that were to be, a drape around the head would connote as much fear as a belt around the waist (the latter being deadlier actually, in the hands of the wrong person), a fear which essentially would be non-existent. A person’s appearance is merely a visual differentiator, it is the mind within that creates the chaos. So perhaps, instead of creating more hate based on what people wear or where they come from, we need to look at creating love instead, by first, remembering that under a garb, there lurks no mandatory devil in disguise and then, by believing that we are indeed the same, created by the same entity, breathing the same air and living on the same planet.

A few months back,  a friend of mine (Rahul Dev: a Human by birth, a Hindu by religion) and I, decided to do a shoot together. He looked impressive… handsome, perhaps even more than he actually is (and he’s a good looking fellow) and yet, I doubt very much that by donning that aristocratic turban, he had magically transformed himself into an evil, conniving beast with the sole mission to destroy the world!

Would you disagree?

Enjoy the images…

All clothes in the images above are from the JJ VALAYA collection: THE RANAS OF KACHCHH, 2016-17

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

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The Coloured Nomad

In my career as a fashion professional, I must admit that I have been significantly partial towards brown skins and frankly, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m Indian and hence biased or that I dislike any other colour of skin. I suppose its the calling of the Nomad in me which embraces the affinity between the tones of the person and the ethos of the clothes that i create.

The larger issue that I’ve always wondered about though is this: Why does there exist disparity within the human race based on the colour of its people. Why does racism exist at all actually? When the creator put together his greatest masterpieces i.e. Man and Woman, and gave all of them exactly the same constitution, the differences he indulged in were not only in the colour of skin, but also in the shapes of various parts of the human anatomy and features, as well as in the dimensions of the human form itself. What then gives us the right to differentiate and divide the human race? Unfortunately, it has mostly to do with (a) geographical boundaries and (b) religion, and ironically, both are man made! Our planet, gifted to us in pristine condition and then we chose to fight battles and kill in the name of “our land’’ simply to create an illusionary boundary which would give us exclusive right to something which was meant for all… I often wonder why these boundaries and rules don’t apply to other species created by God, namely Animals and Plants…will one ever question a deer that wanders into another country or shoot down a dove that flies across the infinite blue skies, or net the fish that boundlessly swim across oceans, or burn the grass that spreads unabashedly, all clearly oblivious of these invisible demarkations? Would we ever ask for their passports and visas? And what about Religion? God is one and he was meant to be the answer to our prayers, the reason why faith was to exist…Then how has religion, meant primarily to spread the word of God and the principle of faith amongst mankind, become the very source of its destruction? Sadly, it seems, God’s greatest creation, mankind, may just have become its own nemesis!

The God i believe we should all follow is LOVE…everything and everyone…without prejudice, without a care about race, colour, sex, religion and without blindly believing in our own decisions, based on those imaginary divisive lines on the planet that we ourselves have created.

Finally, I’d like to quote something beautiful said by my spiritual master, Tarneivji:   “Wanting to fall in love is the greatest sin…Simply acknowledging it’s presence is the greatest virtue”

LOVE…. It can’t be that difficult…

Note. The images above are from the RANAS OF KACHCHH collection 2016-17 of JJ Valaya.

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.

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