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October 30, 2014

Living Fabulously – JJ Valaya

Text by Shirin Mehta

Verve enters the sumptuous universe of JJ Valaya who straddles his own creations with confidence and flair

  • JJ Valaya
  • JJ Valaya

JJ Valaya
Grandeur and sophistication

When you own a piece of history, you own a story, believes couturier JJ Valaya who celebrates his two decades in the industry by expanding his repertoire from fashion to home. And while the Home of Valaya is inextricable linked with the history of fashion in India, the ‘Czar of Indian Couture’ is all about sharing his personal history as also the history of the world in his garments as well as his soon-to-be-introduced interior design. Already, The Home of the Traveler, spread over five floors in the capital, curated and handpicked by JJ Valaya and TJ Singh, offers luxury home décor, furniture and lifestyle accessories including rare collectibles sourced from over the world.

No surprise then that Valaya Home, a high-luxury player, is poised for a glitzy launch this winter. The 6000-square-foot centre, located on a level above JJ Valaya Life, the flagship store for fashion on MG Road in Delhi, will showcase the work of the ace designer in the luxury home space. In sync with his fashion collections, be prepared to experience that fine mesh of Indian and Moroccan inspirations that seamlessly highlight his The Nautch of Fez collection that played beautifully on his design philosophy of a ‘balance in contradictions’.

Why have you ventured into homes at this stage after 20 years of designing couture? Do you see this as a natural progression?
Yes, it’s a process of natural evolution for any progressive fashion house! All top fashion brands in the west for example Ralph Lauren, Armani, Fendi, Versace, have a thriving business in the home sector. We have approached this segment in a two pronged strategy…the first, The Home of the Traveler is a culturally inspired experience where everything is curated by me and put together as a cohesive story which supports our core belief that the past and the present must coexist in any modern home. The second, Valaya Home will be an uber luxury brand where everything is designed by us, be it the furniture, the floors, the walls, the soft furnishings besides of course our signature wall tapestries for which we are already well known.

What will the USP of a JJ Valaya designed home be?
Valaya Home is poised to be an uber-luxury player, where exclusivity and bespoke are the buzzwords. The experience and its collection is being designed by me, with the core mission of creating an all new experience of the Valaya design sensibilities in an area which we believe is a natural extension of a modern and progressive fashion house.

The USP will be the signature Valaya look that upholds the belief that any modern space requires an effective mix of the eclectic with modern which shall be evident with our key DNA of detail, scale, craft and uniqueness firmly in place. We believe that beauty lies in contradiction.

What is the story that you are aiming to tell with your home décor?
Valaya Home was launched in 1996 with a line of signature tapestries. Eighteen years later, in 2014, it introduces a full range and interior design services. The last quarter of 2014 will see the official debut of the first Valaya Home Experience Center in New Delhi.

What are your inspirations?
Inspiration is a strange creature…it has a habit of popping up where it is least expected. However, I like to go back in time to dig out influences which I can reinvent into a new and relevant experience. My travel usually ends up being one of the biggest inspirations whether it is fashion or interiors. Our latest Fashion and Home collection, The Nautch of Fez, finds its soul in two of my favourite countries: India and Morocco, infusing elements of Morocco with the era of Indian Nautch girls. I like to mix seemingly opposite experiences and come up with something which creates interest, awe and inherits a degree of timelessness. A sort of edgy classicism!

What is the difference between luxury and opulence?
They are actually closely connected assuming that both are done elegantly. However, luxury does not essentially have to be opulent to be called luxury. It’s really a matter of personal taste…Indians intrinsically and historically are maximalists at heart and most are now trying to interpret the sentiment in a more modern way albeit without embracing severe minimalism. As I said, it’s all about personal choices.

What is the future of home décor in India?
The Indian consumer today has evolved considerably when it comes to décor because of widespread travel, exposure, a super-charged internet and media and the availability of fantastic brands from across the world in the segment. Home décor in India therefore is also evolving and people are keen on experimenting with newer materials and ideologies. I’d say that India is truly on a roll now!

What are the elements that go into creating the perfect home?
I wish the answer was as simple as the question. Design is both a simple and complex space to be in. Simple, because great design is created by souls with an effortless sense of style; complex, because of the sheer amount of detail that goes into making a great design absolutely awe inspiring!

Who do you see yourself creating homes for?
All those who understand scale, detail, history and modernity. All those who are die hard believers of luxury and don’t just live it but embrace it in all facets of life.

What about accessories and art?
Accessories and art play a big role in effective décor and we will be providing bespoke assistance in picking the right pieces. Luxury demands perfection in scale and detail.

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