Valliyan by Nitya Arora, one of the hottest Indian accessories labels right now, is all about flaunting your personal style rather than following trends. For those fashionistas who love art, have a free spirit and like to experiment, Valliyan is for you. Arora’s designs are a breath of fresh air amid the sea of traditional jewelry. She isn’t afraid to color outside the lines. Nitya Arora calls herself a maximalist and has made an art form of layering statement jewelry in unusual ways. Discover more about the avant-garde couture jewelry designer and how she is inspired to create such whimsical and original pieces.
When Nitya Arora was a child, her grandmother gave her a pair of gold hoops, her first piece of jewelry. Valliyan stands for gold hoops in Punjabi, the perfect brand name to reflect her rich and colorful Punjabi heritage. The name also serves as homage to her incredibly stylish grandmother.
The Valliyan label began when Arora decided to take control of her own destiny. After interning at 18 and a few stints in design, she quit her job to start her own business. Overflowing with her own ideas, she wanted a chance to drive a vision of her own. She founded Valliyan at the young age of 21. The first collection she designed sold at Bombay Electric, one of her favorite stores. Soon after, magazines began to feature her and her jewelry. Other stores started carrying her collections, which led to her first exhibition at Lakme Fashion Week in 2009.
Arora went on to study fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York, graduating in 2011. Soon after, she won the prestigious Grazia Young Designers Award for Best Accessories Designer in 2012. It’s no wonder that the Indian fashion community embraced her. Bollywood producer Rhea Kapoor picked up the collection to style characters in the 2010 film Aisha. Bombay Electric and Pernia Qureshi immediately fell for her work upon first look. Major fashion magazines like Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, and Marie Claire showcased her pieces in their fashion editorials regularly. She quickly became a darling among Bollywood fashionistas and her pieces regularly showed up on the red carpet on starlets like Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Parineeti Chopra.
So what is it about her designs that make others do a double take? Valliyan features jewelry, handbags and headwear for the eccentric fashionista. Its designer works with semi-precious stones, glass, crystals, metals, acrylic, wood and rare or recycled materials (she likes to say up-cycle). Arora combines the various media with gold plating and uses genuine leather for handbags. She likes to create a sculptural feel with vintage influences, bright Indian colors/details and an edgy New York vibe. Arora asserts that most of her pieces, handcrafted in India, are one of a kind.
Each piece she creates gives her an opportunity to experiment. As an artist, she finds her inspiration in everything from street art, coral reefs, and vintage textiles to architecture and of course, her grandmother. She also adores the work of inventive artists like Frieda Kahlo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Manish Arora, John Galliano, Anamika Khanna and Sabyasachi.
Arora often calls herself a surrealist and is drawn by fantasy. Because her work is so eclectic and versatile in design, it can easily be styled with both traditional desi and western wear. While she uses semi-precious stones, she uses inexpensive materials like acrylic, glass and crystals to minimize costs. These materials also add vibrancy, a hallmark of South Asian design.
Top image courtesy of Nitya Arora.