Sitting on a couch in the centre of one of their shops, from a distance they might look like any regular family. Yet, the minute you step into their zone and notice the masterpieces scattered on both of their sides you will instantly realize that they are anything but ordinary women.
For more than 45 years, Azza Fahmy has been redefining the cultural concept of jewellery. What started as a deep admiration for a specialised book has miraculously turned into a long legacy of art. The phenomenal artist has just celebrated the launch of another set of her impeccable treasures in the heart of her gallery in Giza’s First Mall.
Joined by her daughter, Fatma Ghaly, Fahmy chatted warmly with the present media and influencers. To both Fahmy and Ghaly, each and every piece of jewellery is a new precious addition to the family; something that manifests clearly in the way they keenly introduce their new releases every season.
The African 2016 Collection is a cohesive work of art that tells the story of a complete nation. The story started years ago when Fahmy first set her eyes on a soulful country and found herself compelled to dive further and reinterpret this magic.
“I went to Ethiopia, not to get inspired but to see the headwaters of the Nile, but when I saw the brilliance of African art and sculpture I was beyond impressed that I decided to dedicate a collection to black Africa. I started collecting data, both books and jewellery pieces, the minute I got home. Yet, we started working with complete concentration during the past two years only,” said Fahmy.
The designer did not wish to restrict her work to jewellery solely, as she has implemented ethnic African jewellery before. On contrary, the artist’s maturity took hold this time and decided to go for something much more significant.
“This collection is not about straightforward Africa, it is inspired by body-painting and shields, which is new to me. I did not design something with beads and African traditional colours instead I took the cultural aspect,” said Fahmy.
The 20 piece collection represents an actual insight on the African heritage with stories that revolve around body art, geometric motifs, Bassari masks and the Fulani tribes. Each story takes a closer look at one mesmerising part of the continent; while the body-art patterns were captured through well-detailed earrings and pendants, the Bassari masks were reinterpreted with contemporary designs and the Fulani tribe’s signature earrings were modernised for urban women.
“I did not focus on African jewellery in specific; instead, I researched art in general. I studied how they decorate their own bodies, the way they design their shields and houses. This collection is an interpretation of the African spirit and lifestyle not only their jewellery,” said Fahmy.
The pieces’ genuine brilliance is simply the fact that they are very African; yet, very fashionable and modern unlike the outdated traditional jewellery that some might expect when hearing about the theme.
“We are hoping to tackle new markets with this collection. It is very contemporary with lots of statements, so it could appeal to younger, trendier and more daring audience. On the other side, we could also target people with African roots, whom would be very interested to see their culture reinterpreted. So we are possibly focusing on the US or Europe; we are working on it on so many multiple layers,” said Ghaly.
After the cosy launch in Egypt, the collection is set to reach several countries as the brand is strategically stocked in different cosmopolitan cities. “We always like to launch in Cairo because that is where the brand is from; but, then we will go on to launch it in different cities such as Dubai, London, US and all around,” said Ghaly.
Being the brand’s managing director, Ghaly has spent the last few months working on a global marketing strategy for this particular collection. “I see it working very well in the US, where there is a lot of interest in Africa so I think this would be a good place to start and possibly then an art or fashion collaboration could really show it off properly. Also music is a very good idea, because African music is so evident and associating with something like that would work nicely,” said Ghaly.
After the massive success of the brand’s previous collection, which added an Egyptian flavour on several contemporary trends such as the solar system and wings, this collection is an obvious return to Azza Fahmy’s core as a cultural brand.
“This collection reemphasizes what Azza Fahmy is really about because even though we are known for the Egyptian jewellery, in reality the brand is about cultural jewellery and being inspired by different cultures; we have done collections that were inspired by Victorian and Ottoman eras. So this one just emphasises that our attention is not just on Egyptian themes; but, of course we end up doing a lot of Egyptian jewellery because that is where we are from. However, the global heritage is very important as well,” said Ghaly.
“We are constantly researching and studying heritage everywhere around the world, which gives us wider horizons of creativity,” said Fahmy.