Head de­signer at Azza Fahmy Jew­ellery AMINA GHALI on pre­serv­ing jew­ellery-mak­ing tra­di­tions and the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Egypt and Cam­bo­dia

Condé Nast Traveller Middle East - - Tastemaker -

What was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the new

Azza Fahmy Gypsy col­lec­tion? The 15-piece col­lec­tion was in­spired by the life­style of avant-garde desert-gypsy women across

In­dia, East Asia and North Africa, in­clud­ing Egypt’s east­ern and western deserts. The lim­ited-edi­tion pieces have mul­ti­cul­tural el­e­ments with an ar­ray of coloured pre­cious stones, all re­flect­ing the rich, vi­brant cul­tures of th­ese in­de­pen­dent and bold free spir­its. It feels ap­pro­pri­ate to cel­e­brate th­ese no­madic hero­ines at a time when there’s a world­wide em­pow­er­ment move­ment for and by women.

Your mother founded the epony­mous jew­ellery la­bel – did you al­ways know you would fol­low in her foot­steps? I was al­ways in­clined to­ward the artis­tic, but my pas­sion for jew­ellery re­ally be­gan while I was on a gap year from the Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham. Dur­ing this time I at­tended Alchimia, a con­tem­po­rary jew­ellery school in Florence. When I pierced out my first piece – a brass crown ring – I was so over­come with emo­tion I called my mother in Cairo to say that this was it. It was a defin­ing mo­ment.

How has your home of Egypt in­spired the la­bel? Egypt has a rich cul­ture and her­itage, and over 7,000 years of his­tory. Cairo alone has so many cul­tures – Pharaonic, Cop­tic, Ro­man – that there’s a tremen­dous amount to draw on for in­spi­ra­tion. Grow­ing up with such abun­dance and va­ri­ety, a seed was nat­u­rally planted, and his­toric and cul­tural ref­er­ences and nar­ra­tives are both re­flected and cel­e­brated in our de­signs – but with a con­tem­po­rary twist.


How are jew­ellery-mak­ing tra­di­tions in­cor­po­rated into the pieces? Crafts­man­ship is at the core of our DNA, as is the preser­va­tion of time-hon­oured tech­niques such as fil­i­gree, hand-pierc­ing, stone set­ting, ajouré, en­grav­ing, re­poussé and enam­elling, which would oth­er­wise dis­ap­pear.

Your favourite piece of jew­ellery picked up on your trav­els? An old tribal cuff that I got in In­dia. It’s more than a cen­tury old.

What’s your ho­tel style? I like bou­tique ho­tels that have char­ac­ter. I fell in love with many of those on my trav­els to Ubud, Udaipur, Fran­schhoek in South Africa and, es­pe­cially, pen­siones in Florence. I also love the Lazib Inn Re­sort and Spa in Fay­oum, Egypt, which is the per­fect way to es­cape city life and re­lax in a com­fort­able, calm en­vi­ron­ment.

Where in the world do you go to re­lax? Any­where with na­ture and the beach. I have a soft spot for In­dia – it’s where I re­con­nect.

Do you spa? Yes, reg­u­larly! My favourite places are in Bali, In­dia and Thai­land. I like to get Ayurvedic treat­ments in Rishikesh in In­dia, at the foot of the Hi­malayas, renowned as a cen­tre for yoga and med­i­ta­tion. It’s per­fect for re­gain­ing my bal­ance.

A place that left a last­ing im­pres­sion? Cam­bo­dia. I felt a sense of fa­mil­iar­ity and a homey at­mos­phere. The tem­ples re­minded me of Egypt and I felt con­nected with ev­ery­thing around me; it felt like I was start­ing a new chap­ter.

What do you al­ways have in your carry-on? My di­ary, what­ever novel I’m read­ing and my air­port com­pan­ion – an iPad with all my movies and se­ries. I also keep my mother’s home-made nat­u­ral reme­dies with me.

Do you have any beauty travel tips? My daily rou­tine, whether trav­el­ling or at home, is rose wa­ter for my face, co­conut and ar­gan oil for my hair, and al­mond oil for my skin.

Where is on your bucket list? I’ve been want­ing to visit Peru for al­most 15 years now. Ja­pan’s cul­ture also fas­ci­nates me. And Brazil – I’ve heard that if you go, you’ll never want to come back.

18kt gold & ster­ling sil­ver clas­sic ring with pre­cious stones and cal­lig­ra­phy, Azza Fahmy Jew­ellery at Bloom­ing­dale’s

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