A Mother’s Legacy – Azza Fahmy

It is Mother’s Day in the Arab World today! And what more could be better than an interview with designer Amina Ghali featuring her ‘Mother’s Day Collection’.

In 1969, Azza Fahmy began her journey to being one of the most esteemed   jewellery designers in the region. Dedication, persistence and hard work has won her international recognition and made Azza Fahmyone among the well-known brands in the world. With boutiques across the region Azza Fahmy boasts a diverse client list attracting jewellery connoisseurs from around the world. The legacy that Azza Fahmy set has been an inspiration  to women and aspiring young designers around the world. Her daughters have continued the legacy of Azza Fahmy – Eldest daughter Fatma now oversees the running of the day-to-day business as managing director, while younger daughter Amina Ghali – who has a BA in Jewellery and Silversmithing Design from the University of Central England in Birmingham – is designing jewellery for the brand. Haute Arabia talks to know more about the mother-daughter legacy.

Amina Ghali
Amina Ghali

Khansa (HA): Azza Fahmy has developed a long way; tell us more about the evolution of the brand. Where and how it all started?

Amina (AF): My mother set out for her career in the 1970’s when she first took an apprenticeship in Khan-El-Khalili, one of the most historic and celebrated bazaar districts in Cairo.  She also took on the challenge of entering a male-dominated industry, at the time. Adapting her business from a small scale operation to a structured business was not easy but following her British Council fellowship at the Polytechnic School of London, we opened our first flagship boutique in the 1980’s and now we have more than 18 stores and retailers worldwide. We have also lately launched our worldwide Online Boutique.

Khansa (HA): Your mother is a true source of strength for aspiring designers and so are you! What inspired you to pursue jewellery designing?  Tell us about your experience as a jewellery designer?

Amina (HA): I grew up in a very artistic home where my mother was a jewellery designer and my father an architect. Not only that but my mother has always been also very passionate about art and culture and she used to take me and my sister to art museums and exhibitions all over the world and we would constantly shadow her during the summer at her workshop… It was inevitable for me to join this field; you could say I was bitten by the ‘design bug’. But I only truly discovered my passion for jewellery designing when I began my BA studies for jewellery design at the University of Central England, UK, after which I joined Azza Fahmy Jewellery in 2005, and successfully launched my first Fashion Line in 2008.

Classic Pearl Cuff
Classic Pearl Cuff

   Khansa (HA):  Interesting! Tell us more about how the Arab Heritage has influenced your work.

Amina (AF): Being born in Egypt and the Middle East, you grow up with so much heritage surrounding you, whether its Arabic influence, Coptic, Ottoman or Pharaonic, our culture is extremely rich. Also, having studied in Europe for 6 years, with its different outtake on modern and contemporary jewellery, it was beautiful to be able to bridge that gap and to combine both modern and abstract elements with classic ones in my work, to come up with pieces that speak in different languages.

Khansa (HA):  I do realise that all of your pieces strongly speak Arab culture! Who is a part of your aspirations?

Amina (AF): I’ve always admired people who have created something different, empowered a lot of people and have given back to their community. The list is endless; but one that I am truly grateful for is my mother who went against all odds and succeeded in proudly putting Egypt’s name out there and making the world aware of our heritage and history.

Classic Pearl Collar
Classic Pearl Collar

 Khansa (HA): Your mother inspires all! Where all do you have your outlets as of now?

Amina (AF): We have several boutiques in Egypt and retailers around the Middle East and worldwide, including countries like UAE, Qatar, Saudi, and Jordan, with retails at the British Museum in London, the Louvre Museum Shop in Paris, and in Washington D.C. We’re also available online via our Online Boutique at azzafahmy.com

 Khansa (HA): That is basically everywhere! Your works are indeed commendable-from the mother to the daughter, a truly inspirational story !  Which is your most favorite work till now and why? How long does it normally take to complete a collection?

Amina (AF): My favorite work definitely has to be my upcoming Fashion Collection, coming out this May! I really poured my heart and soul in the designing of this collection, which will prove to be very different than all the other collections I have done before. The collection is extremely Egyptian yet extremely modern as well and speaks a lot about my journey of creation.  The average collection takes up to a year in the making, but of course depending on the type of collection, for example, the Pharaonic Collection tooks us a little bit over 8 years in the making.

Button Filigree Earrings
Button Filigree Earrings

Khansa (HA): We are excited to see what you have coming in May! Tell us about your new collection for Mother’s day. What is the secret behind this line?

Amina (AF): Mother’s day is an eventful time of the year where you always want to give back to the woman who gave you everything basically. I was inspired by pearls and diamonds for this collection to honor this occasion; these elements can be very timeless and trendy at the same time and can appeal to all mothers whatever their age and you can easily dress these pieces up or dress them down.

 Khansa (HA): It makes a beautiful gift for mother’s! What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Amina (AF): We have so many things coming up in the pipeline! I’m currently sketching my next Fashion Collection for the year 2014 which I’m very excited about. We’re also launching a major Culture Collection this year! Globally, expect a lot of musical collaborations and celebrity placements coming up as well. Locally, we just launched the Azza Fahmy Design Studio, in association with Alchimia School of Contemporary Jewellery, representing the first jewellery institute of its kind in Egypt and the Middle East and we’ll be starting our second semester this Fall.

Khansa (HA): What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Amina (AF): There have been many highlights during my career where I have felt truly honored and blessed. One would definitely have to be collaborating with International Designers like Julien MacDonald and Preen, seeing our work on the catwalks of New York and London Fashion weeks. Winning the Young Creative Entrepreneur by the British Council was another very fulfilling experience for me as well. And of course besides seeing our work being recognized in internationally acclaimed magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Baazar, The Wall Street Journal and so many more, it’s always rewarding seeing our pieces worn and appreciated by international celebrities and Grammy Award winners such as Rihanna, Joss Stone, Vanessa Williams and Naomi Campbell.

Tassel Pearl Necklace
Tassel Pearl Necklace

Khansa (HA): Any advice for fashionistas when it comes to accessorizing?

Amina (AF): Wear something that is really you and speaks for who you are. I’ve always admired women who embrace their own individual style and are keen on wearing what truly represents them; it is better to keep that in mind versus trying to be always on trend since trends change constantly and a season’s trend would not necessarily be suitable for everyone.

Khansa (HA): I will keep that advice in mind! What would you like to advice your audience?

Amina (AF): I’d advise young jewellery designers to seek education as it’s very important; nothing can be built by talent alone; it’s important to acquire knowledge and develop a strong background of technicalities and theories. It’s also as equally important to maintain one’s brand identity, to always be original and innovative and to never let failure hold you back as there will always be someone out there who would value this individuality.

On behalf of Haute Arabia, I would like to thank you for your time. It was a pleasure having you on Haute Arabia. And to all our readers, Happy Mother’s Day! Give your mothers all the love you can today and every other day!

Mother's Day

Feature Editor: Khansa AJ

To view other pieces from Azza Fahmy Collections Visit:

http://pinterest.com/hautearabia/haute-arabia-female-lookbook-collection/

All the pieces from the collection are available at :

 http://www.azzafahmy.com/store/mother-s-day-collection.html

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