Thursday, December 23, 2010

From Cairo Bazaar to New York Runway: Part II

Looks from Preen’s Fall 2010 New York show, accessorized with Fahmy’s futuristic jewelry.

Fahmy, who has spent the last forty years reviving Arab jewelry traditions, has been an established name in the Middle East for decades. Opening signature stores from Amman to Bahrain, she was single handedly responsible for reviving a vogue in the region for silver jewelry and accessories, at a time when gold was still preferred as a solid investment. Yet she is also on a mission to establish an international jewelry brand, and part of that effort includes collaborations with designers.

This year Fahmy teamed up with Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, the designers behind the cutting-edge London label, Preen. As was the case with Macdonald, Fahmy took the initiative to approach the design duo about a collaboration.

Azza Fahmy for Preen sculptural bangles; Preen designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi with Cairo-based style editor and brand ambassador Heba Elkayal; A sterling silver hand crafted belt by Azza Fahmy for Preen.

“What was really interesting for us was that we talked about how great it would be to have jewelry for the catwalk show, and we had kind of looked into it. And when Azza came to us it was meant to be. Perfect timing, because it was something we had been looking at,” says Thornton.

By December 2009 Fahmy had already sent samples and sketches to Preen’s London studio. “We worked very well together and both shared a desire to fuse craftsmanship with futuristic and innovative design. I think when you put two apposing things together you often come up with something new and exciting,” recalled Fahmy of her collaboration with Preen.

Fahmy in the early 70’s apprenticing at Cairo’s Khan El Khalil, For Preen’s Fall 2010 show, Fahmy was inspired by the French lace used in the collection, which translated into filigreed chokers.

When the designers had initially met to discuss the project, Bregazzi and Thornton showed Fahmy materials they were planning on using for their collection. “We showed Azza this intricate French lace which inspired her,” says Bregazzi. According to Fahmy this intern spurned her to incorporate, “open work techniques to create geometric cuts and motifs that painstakingly mimic the pattern of lace fabric, while recalling Islamic calligraphy and architectural shapes.”

The results of their collaboration were presented on Preen’s runway during New York Fashion Week in February 2010. Accenting the London Label’s streamlined designs, were Fahmy’s dramatic multi-faceted chokers, cuffs and belts, all rendered in Fahmy’s signature combination of sterling silver and gold.

A model wearing a broach by Azza Fahmy for Julien Macdonald, Fall 2007; Azza Fahmy and Julien Macdonald.

“Typically the kind of jewelry one sees at a runway presentation is strictly meant for show, and rarely finished off to the level presented at Preen. In that context, this is a rare catwalk collection. The pieces aren’t only fashion forward but also beautifully designed and built to last,” added Cairo-based style editor Heba Elkayal.

Although the collection was an instant hit amongst editors and buyers alike, for Azza Fahmy it was also triumph of a different kind in her mission to change the world’s perception of the Middle East. "The West has not understood us well," Fahmy says. "We didn't sell ourselves and gave them the façade of terrorism instead. Those of us involved in culture have a duty to help repair those misunderstandings."

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very inspiring!