Meredith Damouni speaks exclusively to Amina Ghali as she designs her first collection taking the reins from her Mother to continue the legacy of the region’s most loved fine jewellery brands, Azza Fahmy.
We are huge fans of the Azza Fahmy brand and love to see new generations evolving brands to continue the heritage and legacy of the house. When did you know you wanted to follow in your mother’s footsteps?
As a child I always had this feeling that I wanted to become a jewellery designer, I knew that it was my destiny. Being a single mother, she would take my sister and I with her to the workshop as her personal assistants, so we’ve been exposed from a very young age. However, it wasn’t until I pierced out my first ring at 17 years old that I realized that this is the path that I wanted to follow.
How important is it to you to continue the legacy of the brand?
For me it’s not about continuing the legacy but about really believing in what we do. We are an exceptional brand, not just in terms of design but as entrepreneurs and how we lead our brand. At the beginning, when I joined I found it hard to find my identity in a brand that’s already established. My mother worked very hard to build her brand, but she was a great mentor who was constantly encouraging me to find my own identity while staying true to the Azza Fahmy DNA.
How have you approached the codes of the brand when designing this pioneering collection?
Naturally, when designing any collection each piece will have one if not all Azza Fahmy signatures; calligraphy, silver and gold metal mix, handcrafted techniques, and inspiration from a certain culture or heritage. I always work with trendsetters and stylists to understand what is going on in the world to stay relevant yet unique.
What pressure did you feel in the process?
I always felt pressured because I had to go above and beyond to create something special. However in the past few years I feel that something has transitioned inside me, a sense of self worth knowing that I’m doing my best, trusting the process and flowing with it. Yes I feel pressured when it comes to timelines but as time goes I become more aware of the proces. I’m lucky enough to be passionate about what I do and I truly enjoy every step of the process from initial sketch to when the design is released. It is always nerve wracking to wait and see the results of each collection but if you believe in your design everyone else will see it through your work.
Are there any surprises that you have coming up/ What’s the most exciting thing that’s coming up for you this year?
We have exciting projects in the pipeline, nothing I can disclose yet but we will be sharing more soon.
As an Arab woman, how do you feel your heritage is communicated through your work?
My mother and I worked on many collections that celebrate different cultures and heritage. Ancient Egypt will always be one of the most important collections that we always reference for inspiration. It took 8 years of research to perfect it and translating our Egyptian culture into pieces of jewellery is a very proud moment for us.
Why is it important to discover new styles and techniques in the jewellery craft?
Many are moving into the digital world and for Azza Fahmy as a brand we are trying for as long as possible to keep the craft and time honored techniques alive. Our Azza Fahmy foundation offers vocational training to teach jewellery design and hopefully in the near future all kinds of craft. There will also always be room for learning new design techniques and implementing them in our work.
What are the most important factors that you consider when starting on a new design?
We design jewellery for the modern woman, someone who has an interest in jewellery and is looking for something a bit more unique. In terms of design, there are certain elements that I consider very important; jewellery that is easy to put on and take off, pieces that can be styled up or down, jewellery that is not too heavy but people can connect to. Overall the piece should trendy yet timeless.
How do you see the Azza Fahmy brand in 5 years?
I see the brand expanding into new markets with more products that tell stories that people can connect to. I also see myself working on different creative projects that go beyond jewellery.
Who is your next generation of customers – describe them?
Young men and women who appreciate jewellery and the personal meaning behind the pieces. A generation who has an understanding for art and culture and an eye for pieces that are unique.
Sum up the Azza Fahmy woman for us.
A woman who has appreciation for art and culture. Someone who is looking for something unique and different. A woman who enjoys wearing pieces that tell a story and have a personal meaning.
If there was a dream person you could design a piece for, who would it be and why?
Audrey Hepburn, I think she is the most elegant and graceful woman and I would’ve really enjoyed designing a piece for her.
What trends do you see in the jewellery business?
Post Covid, people are a lot more cautious about where they’re investing their money. Gold jewellery has definitely seen its rise in the past couple of months and will continue for a while. Clients are also looking for statement pieces that will never go out of style that they can later pass on as heirlooms to their children and grandchildren.
Learn more on azzafahmy.com
Photography – Ayaad Damouni at Capital D
Creative Direction – Meredith Damouni at Capital D
Production – Capital D Studio
Studio – Capital D Studio
Special thanks for HFA Consultancy