One of the great things about my job is the opportunity it gives me to meet, learn from and work with some amazingly talented creatives whose passion for their craft, and desire to push its boundaries is so inspiring. Through our sister company, trend forecasting agency Adorn Insight*, I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with just such a woman – the lovely Amina Ghali, daughter, designer and business partner of renowned Egyptian jeweller, Azza Fahmy.
Amina was in London a couple of weeks ago and she invited me to see her latest jewellery lines, including the new Azza Fahmy for Matthew Williamson 9-piece capsule collection. Unveiled at Williamson’s SS14 catwalk show during London Fashion Week, the collection features clever fan-effect rings that put a spin on the stacking trend, as well as mesh- and coin-based pieces, and a liberal sprinkling of coloured gems including green amethyst, citrine, garnets, pink tourmaline and peridots.
In between trying on (almost) every piece of jewellery from all three Fahmy collections – Fashion, Cultural and Exclusive (or limited edition) – and getting a fascinating lesson in Egyptian musical culture, I spoke to Amina about her passion for innovation, her desire to marry ancient skills with a modern outlook, and the importance of trends in her work.
Adorn London: How did the collection with Matthew Williamson come about?
Amina Ghali: We were looking into a possible fashion collaboration, and the Matthew Williamson brand really fit the criteria. Both brands share the same design ethos, research and cultural approach, not to mention of course, how much we love Matthew’s work! We approached Matthew, he realised the similarities too and here we are!
AL: Tell us about the creative process. Was there a brief or were you given free rein?
AG: Our design team met up with Matthew and his design team in London where we brainstormed the collection and merged our inspirations together.
AL: Parts of the collection have an architectural slant. Why?
AG: I was very inspired by architecture this season and stunning structural forms. It was challenging and exciting for me to see how can I take such a fashion forward trend and make it our own.
AL: What part did Adorn Insight‘s trend forecasts play in inspiring you in this, and other collection?
AG: We have benefited greatly from many trends highlighted by Adorn Insight and channeled them into various collections. Our most recent collection ‘Suma’ – which is part of the Azza Fahmy ‘Cultural’ line – took inspiration from stories about coins, pinky rings and notions of sentiment in jewellery.
Our ‘Azza Fahmy for Matthew Williamson’ collection and my upcoming Fashion ’14 Collection were greatly inspired by Adorn’s focus on futurism and a renewed interest in colour-infused jewellery.
AL: You create amazing bespoke pieces at Azza Fahmy. Other than people you have already created for, who would your dream client be and what would you create for them.
AG: Anyone who shares an appreciation for art, craftsmanship, and deep sentiment. But I would definitely love to design bespoke pieces for a film; a historical film to be exact.
AL: Your new Fashion collection is Art Deco-inspired. This has been a popular influence of late. What makes your jewellery stand out?
AG: We had previously released a collection at Azza Fahmy that was inspired by Ancient Egypt, and I was still very much into that mood. Many people tend not to realize that various Art Deco patterns were actually greatly inspired by Ancient Egyptian influences from the ‘Amarna’ period. Naturally, my Fashion collections are mainly inspired by global trends, fortunately the Art Deco theme was in trend but the real challenge for me was to take this theme and blend it with a civilization that is thousands of years old and make this blend fashion forward.
AL: Your Exclusive collection uses 18ct gold and precious stones. Does working with these materials alter the way you approach the design process?
AG: No not at all. We put the same effort into our Exclusive lines as we do with all other Azza Fahmy collections.
AL: Azza Fahmy is known for championing traditional jewellery-craft techniques. How do you use them to create jewellery that will appeal to a modern woman?
AG: The trick is to constantly re-invent yourself! What we do is take these rare and ancient techniques, blend them with our contemporary design elements which are always evolving. That way, we end up with creations that beautifully combine authenticity and modernity together.
AL: You work alongside your mother, Azza Fahmy, and your sister Fatma, who is the managing director. What does the family dynamic bring to the mix and what have you learned from eachother?
AG: I have learnt so much from my mother. A few lines would be too little to explain! But I guess the most important thing is maintaining professionalism. My sister and I don’t take work home and we don’t bring home life to work.
As for what my mother has learnt from me – it would definitely have to do with my fascination for contemporary jewelley. When I got back from Europe I slowly started making her fall in love with it, which has really impacted our lines. Working with family is great because everyone shares the same passion and goal for the business.
The Azza Fahmy for Matthew Williamson SS14 capsule jewellery collection is available this month in selected Azza Fahmy retail outlets and online. It will be available in Matthew Williamson stores from Feb 14th 2014.
* If you are in the jewellery industry and would like to find out how Adorn Insight trend forecasts can inspire you please contact us www.adorninsight.com/landing/