World of Azza Fahmy
Azza Fahmy is an independent purveyor of handcrafted jewellery taking their inspiration from 7000 years of culture defined by contemporary minds. Honouring traditional techniques passed down from generation to generation, each piece is a result of years of research.
Their spirit is proudly Egyptian whilst the appeal of their creations is now global, with stores on four continents, pieces worn worldwide by influencers and singers such as Rihanna and Joss Stone and collaborations with international designers Matthew Williamson and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.
Here we speak to the brand’s namesake, Chairwomen/ Creative Director, Azza Fahmy about the brand’s creation and future plans.
When did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I have always had an interest in design and I have BA in interior design. However, it was when I found a German book on Medieval European Jewellery. It was reconfirmed from the moment I finished my first piece.
Where did you study?
Initially, two years studying with the masters at Khan El Khalili in the ancient jewellery quarter in Egypt followed by a year at the London Poly courtesy of a scholarship from the British Council.
What are your basic design principles?
Connecting Jewellery with culture and historical references and translating this to suit modern, contemporary lifestyle without compromising our DNA.
“A location, an attitude. Created by Egypt’s fine jewellery house of provenance, Azza Fahmy. An Exclusive society for those who believe that life’s true luxury is the ability to explore our existence”
How do you describe the lady who wearing your designs?
Someone who quintessential loves to be different, has an appreciation for art and culture, the integrity of unique, artistic designs, and loves individuality.
In your view, what characterises Azza Fahmy designs?
Each meticulously hand-crafted piece holds a story and is immersed in, and reflects cultures from across the globe while being stylish, modern and relevant at the same time. In-depth research goes into every collection in order for us to create authentic artistic designs that incorporate time-honoured techniques and include features such as beautiful motifs and calligraphy.
Which is your most treasured collection and why?
The Pharaonic Collection – The inspiration behind the Pharaonic collection is the Armana period (1352-1327 B.C.) with a special focus on the theme of ‘Love and Wisdom’. It was a time of revolutionary cultural change to Egyptian religion, art and society and is the most famous of periods of Ancient Egyptian history.
It took eight years of in-depth research and creative development with every detail being authenticated by an ex-Christie’s Egyptologist. Like all our collections the Pharaonic collection is hand-crafted and is one of our largest collections. It artistically translated the complex art form of Ancient Egypt’s motifs and symbolic references to modern contemporary jewellery. Every piece of jewellery holds a story and it is one of our most successful collections
Tells us a little about the history of the brand?
The brand was established in 1969. I began my career working for the Egyptian Government as a graphic designer before my passion for jewellery design was ignited. I trained for two years as an apprentice with a well respected master in Khan El Khalili, Egypt’s ancient jewellery quarter before moving to London courtesy of a British Council Scholarship to further and complete my jewellery design studies.
On returning to Egypt I began creating hand-crafted jewellery and steadily developed a growing business. By the mid ‘90’s ‘Azza Fahmy’ had grown to a fully-fledged brand with a strong export business.
We now have a workforce of over 220 employees and 14 retail doors across Egypt, Jordan and UAE and this includes Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols in Dubai, seven stand-alone Azza Fahmy boutiques, online boutique – www.azzafahmy.com plus online retail presence in Italy (Luisa Via Roma) and the UK with La Maison Couture plus our new London store in Mayfair at 27 Burlington Arcade.
Four years ago, I opened DSAF (Design School by Azza Fahmy) in Cairo in collaboration with Alchimia School of Contemporary Design in Florence. It is design training facility to train budding design entrepreneurs or those wanting to gain design capabilities and it delivers a comprehensive curriculum with courses in jewellery design and manufacture as well as providing commercial insight.
When I decided to study jewellery design there were no designated facilities or organisations so I had to find my own way of achieving the necessary knowledge. DSAF fulfils this requirement as the first educational institution of its kind in the region.
What is it is like working with your daughters?
It’s great. They bring a fresh perspective which is vital to the company’s growth. We share the same aims and, they were immersed in my work from a young age, so, it’s all a very natural process.
Did you expect them to join the family business?
No. It was quite a surprise, but it’s great to be working with them.
As a family, how do you resolve business issues?
We have a golden rule. Business is not discussed outside of the office so. It can be difficult but it is important that any issues or potential issues are addressed and resolved in the office during specific regular meetings. It maintains domestic harmony.
Please tell us about your latest collection and the inspiration behind it.
The ‘Falahi’ collection is inspired by and reflects Egyptian traditional heritage from across the region. It is dedicated to and celebrates the peasant woman, the unsung heroine who plays a great role in society that no one notices, who has had a huge impact on modern jewellery introducing and popularising many styles including kerdan and the ubiquitous serpent motif.
The collection is elegant and features intricate fine wirework and detailing that has been carefully designed to create a layered 3D appearance. There is also a strikingly sophisticated necklace with matching earrings that is inspired by and honours the iconic artist & performer, Taheya Karyoka.
As our inspiration is drawn from many different eras we have subtly fused Egyptian, Greco and Victorian origins to create individual and unique stylish designs.
The collection is available in our trademark metal mix combination of 18ct gold and sterling silver or 18ct gold option and feature rose cut diamonds, pearls, coins, motifs and calligraphy together with textured finishes.
Why did you choose London for your first store outside of the MENA?
We have invested in growing the UK audience and our online boutique www.azzafahmy.com has witnessed significant UK revenue. This market has become one of our important growth areas outside the MEA region.
Additionally, London (with the help of the British Council) has made a significant educational contribution to my early career path and that of my younger daughter who is our head of design, further enhancing our connection to the city.
What advice would you give a young entrepreneur?
Believe in yourself and be passionate about your craft. Don’t be afraid of failing – disappointment is all part of process. Consider failings and mistakes as learnings. They form experience. Work hard, success will come.
What can consumers expect to see you at the London store?
Visitors to the store will be able to experience and shop the Azza Fahmy brand. A curated selection of hand-crafted exquisite pieces from across our most popular collections together with exclusive pieces will be available as well as the opportunity to utilise our bespoke design service.