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Patience is a virtue and we realised that during the two-hour delay to JJ Valaya's opening show at the Amby Valley India Bridal Fashion Week (IBFW) on Wednesday night. Hosted at The Grand Hotel, Valaya built up the anticipation in the packed-to-its-capacity pre-show area as he mingled with guests, all of whom adhered to the ivory dress code. Then like Pied Piper he led them in queues to the show area. While soirees are seldom held near the ramp, in this case, it was part of the setting. The premise, the Maharaja of Madrid (also the name of the collection) was due to arrive from Spain on a ship with his daughter, the Princess, essayed by actor Kangna Ranaut. In true Valaya style, nothing was left to the imagination. The set, created by Sumant Jayakrishnan, saw a ship in dock along with make-believe Maharajas from erstwhile states (presented by a team of actors) seated among the guests in all-white finery. Vintage canopies dotted the area around the ramp and a butler service made sure no wine glass was left empty. The sound of water lapping the shore and the crying of seagulls added to the ambience.
The show began with a jugalbandi between kathak dancers on the floor and a flamenco dancer on the ship. Then the Maharaja of Madrid himself – actor Kabir Bedi – dressed in an opulent floor-length jacket with stunning embroidery – made an appearance. There's no denying it was a dramatic start with specially-composed music by Gaurav Raina of the Medieval Pundits. The first part of the collection saw outfits in ivory with detailing inspired by the lace found in Spanish fans and headgear. The silhouettes were in the designer's signature style full (read lehengas) and flowing floor-length Anarkalis, something we have seen him roll out many times before. Menswear, also a part of the line-up, brought in dressed-up achkans and jackets. The highlights were the Madrid elements – the quintessential Spanish fringed-shawls with their floral embroideries were well interpreted with Indian Jamavar by Valaya. The bright orange flowers and tassle-trimmings took the Spanish story forward in a collection that was resplendent in hues such as deep aubergine, red and turquoise. A Valaya collection would be incomplete without the use of velvet, also a staple in a Maharaja's wardrobe, and