Good things come to those who wait, but at the ongoing Aamby Valley India Bridal Fashion Week, that is quite the understatement. Good things come to those who wait for a REALLY REALLY long time. JJ Valaya’s show began, almost an hour and a half late!
But, no biggie, the Delhiites and fashionistas kept themselves busy with the two things they do best – small talk and attempting to drink out the open bar. Between G-bar and the IBFW pre show lounge, white wine glasses clinked, and whiskey was swished around in tumblers, over a murmur verbally revisiting recent summer escapades.
The lounge was filled with an odd proportion of people wearing white, indicating a trend, but what I didn’t know then was that it was foreshadowing for the show ahead. MissMalini and I air kissed and caught up with those familiar faces and friendly smiles while waiting. Plus we had a comical conversation with the always verbose Suhel Seth, who in between praising the virality of the royal baby online and the state of our economy mentioned, he’d never been to a couture show before (arguable!). The amalgamation of guests apart from the ones expected to be there was refreshing and made the wait more bearable.
What seemed like an endless hour later, the doors to the show hall were finally opened to the media and owing to excitement and anticipation, it was a borderline stampede. That also reminded me I hadn’t been to a couture show before either (at least from the vantage of being a part of the media).
JJ Valaya is an animated and warm individual, with a sharp eye for detail and a mind harbouring fantastic tales. His recent couture show captured all that, apart from his signature ornate ensembles in warm hues, there was a dreamlike runway with a ship, yes, a ship, a dance performance of salsa and kathak.
Reminiscent of the larger than life presentations Chanel is lauded for, JJ Valaya set the bar for us here in India. He put together a show in every sense of the word. Removed the burdensome and frustrating front row and much disliked banned drinks in the halls. A mughals king court was recreated and seating was around tables that were laden with wine, cheese and olives for guests to sit back and enjoy!
The seating organisation was interesting only because of the mini social circles that stuck together and presence of the India’s fashion stalwarts who were all seated together, like a cool kids club! That those around them, kept glancing and wanted to be a part of. Manish Malhotra, Suneet Verma, Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap Singh enjoyed each others company and lent to the excited community feeling that was palpable. Possibly, because it was the first ever India Bridal Week in Delhi, or because the audience was amidst an atmosphere of something truly novel.
Having visted Spain a few years ago, the influx of inspiration from a culture known for its flamboyance was instantly recognizable and surprisingly complimented the already opulent Indian design JJ is commended for.
Here is a roundup of my favourite pieces from the collection, chosen in theme because of the thought and attention that was put into creating them.
As the lounge foretold, the first sequence was in ivory and inspired by the laces found in Spanish fans and headgear, the sari styled with a pouch, was an instant favourite, coupled with the elegant draping, it was divinely delicate.
I kept a look out was for the reinvention of JJ’s signature Alika jacket, which seemed to have taken a back seat to these adorable bolero jackets, that echoed simultaneously of the bull fighters, Torero’s in Spain and regal times of India.
Third was the tulle, I could live in tulle! Ombre and vibrant, balanced with ornate paneling, this was definitely an awe moment for the audience, as it gave relief in a series of outfits of ostentation.
Fourth, on the list was the Manton de Manila inspired embroideries, evolving from the much noted paisley JJ is typically known for embellishing. The rose motif, and its hue, tied in the whole collection and carried the theme through to the final royally red set of the collection.
Finally, Kabir Bedi on the catwalk, absolutely priceless. His grandiose presence, hands in air, lapping up applause, left the audience in awe and surprise, me included. Matched by a maharajah worthy sherwani, Kabir Bedi’s regal presence evoked the core message and aesthetic of JJ Valaya’s brand. The ‘Czar of fashion’ as he is known, Valaya, couldn’t have chosen a better show stopper to balance Kangana Ranaut’s elegance.
Pix: Yogen Shah and Surbhi Sethi for MissMalini