- The designer gives a desi spin to costumes with fabrics, embroideries and techniques which are predominantly Indian.
Indian designer J.J. Valaya has collaborated with Ruth E Carter for the Afro-centric outfits in “Coming 2 America,” set in the fictitious country of Zamunda. The sequel to the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy, follows the newly-crowned King Akeem (Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) who embark on an adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York – where it all began.
The Delhi-based Valaya has contributed 18 costumes for the film for Murphy, Shari Headley and Hall, among others. Valaya is known for blending traditional and modern designs with exquisite hand embroidery, rich fabrics and Indian heritage motifs.
The designer has spoken about having “full creative liberty” to select the fabrics, techniques, embroideries. He told Vogue India that the clothes he created for the film are India centric. “We had the creative liberty of deciding the fabrics, colors, techniques, embroideries and crafts and curating something that magnificently fit this gargantuan feature,” he said. “And I believe that is what the power of fiction lets you achieve. When you create something purely from your imagination, you are not confined to any international borders and that sort of creativity can traverse globally.”
Even though the kingdom of Zamunda has a strong African undertone to it, “it also had a glorious amalgamation of various cultures which have been depicted in a beautiful manner. Therefore, all the fabrics, embroideries and techniques used are predominantly Indian,” he told Vogue India.
“Working with someone as established and distinguished as Ruth, that too in my very first Hollywood collaboration, has been an extremely enlightening and enriching experience,” he told the Hindu. “What struck me the most about her was how humble and down to earth she was irrespective of the fame that she has achieved.”
Last month, the renowned designer unveiled his new collection for Summer 2021. An ode to the culturally rich, sophisticated yet elaborate Ottoman Empire, the Bursa transcends through the by-lanes of the ancient city and is an alluring tribute to Persian heritage.