At the start of October, Azza Fahmy – one of Egypt's most famous jewelry creators – will launch a new collection that draws attention to the beauty of traditional rural jewelry
Fahmy's first designs in the 1970s set a revolutionary trend for jewelry making in Egypt, moving away from the typical bracelets and rings that most Egyptian women would wear, and introducing jewelry inspired by Nubian architecture and Arabic calligraphy.
It was some 50 years ago that she started out as an apprentice in the male-dominated workshops of Cairo's Khan El-Khalili, learning all about the centuries-old craft of jewelry making. She then started her workshop with a handful of other people, aiming to tell stories of heritage and culture through her creations.
Later, she launched her own line, eventually becoming the most famous Egyptian jewelry designer, collaborating with famous names on the catwalk, among them renowned designer Mathew Williamson in 2013.
Now Azza Fahmy is acclaimed worldwide, not only for her designs, which rely profoundly on research, but also for the continuation of the traditional hierarchy of craftsmen dating back to the Ottoman era, and which have been sustained in Egypt for centuries.
In her workshop, craftsmen are ranked according to their longevity and experience at work, falling into three categories: the master (osta); the handy man (snaiei); and the young workers (sabi). The system ensures that the skills acquired over long years are preserved and passed on.
All pictures courtesy of Azza Fahmy Falahy collection
Fahmy previously told Ahram Online that everything she produces is a reinvention of something that already exists, and that her job is to continue the legacy of incarnating beauty.
In accordance with this vision, her latest addition to the field bears the name "Falahy", a term referring to the traditional culture of rural Egypt, from where it draws inspiration.
"I want to dedicate this collection to the peasant woman, who plays a great role in this society that no one notices. The Egyptian woman whether from, a desert or an urban location, has had and continues to have a huge impact on modern jewelry, and we should acknowledge her for introducing and popularizing many styles, including kerdan and the ubiquitous serpent motif," she said
The 12-piece Fallahi collection offers a fresh, contemporary take on traditional Egyptian designs, providing a tribute to the style exhibited by the late, famous Egyptian dancer Taheya Karyoka.
In her Falahy collection, Fahmy creates her famous three-dimensional effect by layering sterling silver with gold and precious stones, manifesting her trademark calligraphy and providing a new interpretation of traditional designs.