The Ottoman Empire of Turkey has always fascinated the master couturier, JJ Valaya. At the 2012 Wills India Fashion Week, the designer showed his Azrak collection, which was inspired by the Ottoman Empire and his visit to Turkey beckoned JJ Valaya to craft the collection. Perhaps the Ottoman architectural and craftsmanship evoked nostalgia for the designer as he is basically from the royal city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan. JJ Valaya's Azrak collection featured contrasting hues from ivory and blacks to velvet maroons and gold tones. It was a grand finale collection, which was not only synonymous to the Indian weddings but there was an articulate visual narrative of the Ottoman Empire that we witnessed in his collection.
Eight years later, came another collection, which seemed richer in hues and had just a very little whiff or brush of minimalism. This collection was also inspired by the Ottoman Empire but was more ornate and vibrant. This collection titled, Bursa The Ottoman Saga, was shown on a digital format at the ongoing FDCI India Couture Week 2020. Whilst the source of inspiration was the same, the Bursa collection outfits were completely different from Azrak. Bursa was definitely more maximalist and elaborate. Soaked in bright hues with a few pastel numbers, this collection was so Valaya because of rich hues, regal effect, and a break from minimalist trend. After JJ Valaya served us entree with his Tabriz collection that was inspired by mystical culture and arts of Persia, the designer presented the main course to us with Bursa. In other words, he showed his journey from Persia into the alleys of Bursa. While Tabriz was a more diverse collection in terms of the type of outfits, Bursa was limited but more resplendent. The collection, which was inspired by the ancient city of Bursa - the founding capital of the Ottoman Empire and the birthplace of Ottoman architecture, only featured three key silhouettes of the Indian weddings. Yes, the collection was unique because it only featured sarees, lehengas, and sherwanis. The collection has 48 pieces for men and women.
The researched inspiration included the famous Ottoman silks and nomadic kilims of the period. The Ottoman miniatures, known as 'Taswir', which are painted to illustrate manuscripts or used in dedicated albums accentuated this year's collection. 'Tezhip' (ornamenting with gold) was also pervasive in this year's collection. As stated in the collection note, the label's discoveries for this season were also the 'Topkapi' palace jewels - Topkapi palace has found relevance in JJ Valaya's earlier collection too. Apart from that, details of Turkish armour, especially the quills used then, and a medley of Turkish flora, fauna, and fruits also enhanced Bursa collection. The bridal collection also reflected on the burnished metallic technique and golds, which gave the outfits an antique aesthetic. Swarovski crystals, silk threads, beads, pearls, and zardozi techniques and embellishments were also a part of the collection.
The collection had gorgeous pieces and some outfits like the Chevron sarees from the Chevron collection were also included in Bursa collection. There were some outfits from his collection such as the combination of the grey light-weight embroidered saree and burgundy puffed sleeved blouse, ombre-embroidered lehenga, and mustard printed saree, which we really loved. Apart from that, hand-painted buttons on sherwanis and the nature-inspired patterns absolutely won us. We loved the printed safas too even though the safas weren't a part of the collection. A special mention should be given to Archana Aggarwal, who is the jewellery partner for 2020 FDCI ICW. She crafted timeless gemstone jewellery that included necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and hair and hand accessories, which enhanced the regal effect.
JJ Valaya's collection was not only stunning but also diligent. This collection is one of the strongest collections of Valaya's, true to his brand's philosophy and aesthetics, well-balanced, and certainly for discerning prospective grooms and brides, who back maximalist sensibility.