It may seem ironical when a designer says talking about clothes is pointless. JJ Valaya believes fashion is a visual medium. 'When you walk in through the door wearing a lovely outfit, people compliment you on the look and the outfit, only later does it merit talking of the fine count yarn, the turquoise colour, the border and so on', he says.
The last time he was in Hyderabad, he unveiled a collection with Turkish influences. This time, he took a leaf out of his Spanish voyages for the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour, putting forth a collection curiously titled ‘Maharaja of Madrid’. “That’s the fun of fashion. Each season you can go on a creative voyage and get away with it,” he laughs. He loves to travel and his work takes him to many countries (he participated in the Ukraine Fashion Week recently), particularly those nations rich with craft, culture and royalty. “I cannot draw inspiration from the Wild West or a country like Australia that has little to offer in terms of history. I like regions that have a past and some semblance of royalty,” he says.
'For this collection, I haven’t drawn inspiration from jackets of matadors or flamenco dancers. Spanish nuances have been tweaked in an Indian context', he explains. Sometimes, there are months of research involved and he says he 'thought bell bottoms were pathetic though they were a big trend. So when I notice a trend, I infuse only a few elements from it into a timeless collection. My clothes can be defined as edgy classicism'.
Personally, Valaya is happy with the strides his fashion empire has made in the last two decades, diversifying into home and fashion like many international luxury labels. He designs for members of Middle Eastern royalty and all appointments are made in palaces. “My hands are full,” he smiles.