JJ Valaya talks to AHI in an exclusive interview

Indian couturier JJ Valaya on his collaboration with a Pakistani textile mill, Five Star.

You are a couturier with a love for opulence. What, for you, was the attraction in designing prints for a humble fabric like lawn?

Valaya: We already work with prints a lot, which one accentuates with embroideries, embellishments and styles. We’ve done exactly the same with lawn, which fascinates me because it’s a marvelous fabric. At JJ Valaya we oscillate between couture and ready to wear but we also offer design services, which fall under apparel, home and events. This would be a project under these design services.

How does it feel to be associated with a Pakistani brand?

Valaya: This would be a first for any Indian designer and Pakistani mill and I have to say it was exciting and challenging at the same time. It hasn’t been done before so it was just as much historical and I love the fact that we’re creating history.

Having said that, these associations have a massive impact on fashion. Here, at the Wills India Lifestyle Fashion Week, selected designers are offered huge associations with mills to design and produce ready to wear. It’s what Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney have done with Target and H&M. At the end of the day fashion is about aesthetic and this collaboration is just as exciting.

Tell us a bit about your designs? Are they any different from what you design for Indian women?

Valaya: We’ve done 25 designs in two colour waves each and they’re divided into five signature collections. And what we’ve designed for Pakistan is not at all different from what we make for India. I have a unique signature and we’ve stuck to our forte. We’ve played with detailing and designed the final garments for women to get an idea of what they can look like. We are known for being maximalist not minimalist and that’s what the lawn will be. It’s not a line of prints, it’s a production!

Is this a one off venture?

Valaya: (Laughs) The proof lies in the pudding, If it does well, I come back next year.

What are your impressions of Pakistan’s fashion industry?

Valaya: I have many dear friends in Pakistan and when it comes to fashion we’re cousins; we all dig into the same treasure trove of history. But the last I heard, Pakistan had too many fashion councils. We know from experience that any country that wants its fashion to be taken seriously and professionally needs one administrative body. We started out the same way but managed to get our act together.

Now that you’ve done lawn, are there any plans of showing in Pakistan or bringing your ready to wear here?

Valaya: I believe in evolution and one can only hope. I’ve been wanting to show in Pakistan for a long time and when it happens, I’d want it to be on the scale of a magnum opus!


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