Mayfair embraces Azza Fahmy: Egypt's female-led jewellery brand comes to London

Mayfair embraces Azza Fahmy: Egypt's female-led jewellery brand comes to London
Azza Fahmy has opened a store in London, bringing a Middle Eastern and African touch to one of the world's most prominent shopping spots.
5 min read
19 Mar, 2018
Egypt's high end jewellery brand Azza Fahmy has opened a store in London [Azza Fahmy]

Luxury Egyptian jewellery brand Azza Fahmy, a name well known among celebrities and runway legends, opened its debut store in London on Monday. The opening came ahead of the brand's 50th anniversary next year.

Azza Fahmy is a brand is known for its unique designs, with its collections being inspired by eras and cultural attributes of the Middle East and Africa. The brand's wares have adorned outfits worn by singers Rihanna, Joss Stone and supermodel Naomi Campbell, among others. 

"Our design perspective is to artistically translate cultural and historic references to modern contemporary jewellery," CEO Azza Fahmy told The New Arab. The brand focuses deeply on researching the era or culture it is trying tor represent with contemporary jewellery design.

"One of my favourite collections is 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," Azza added, describing how the collection took eight years of research and creative development, with every detail being authenticated by an Egyptologist.

Having already opened its doors to Londoners on March 1, the official launch took place on Monday, to celebrate the new splash of culture coming to Mayfair's Burlington Arcade. 

From day-job to feminising the jewellery industry

Before starting her brand, Azza worked with the Egyptian government to make ends meet while she delved into self-discovery and the realised her passion.

"I graduated with a BA in Interior Design and went on to work in a governmental position for several years.  During that time, I was constantly searching and looking for something that I could truly be passionate about, until I discovered a book on European medieval jewellery," she told The New Arab.

"I was totally captivated and I realised that jewellery design was the direction for me."

After realising her passion, Azza started to experience obstacles in finding enough training to start up, in what she described as a "male dominated area."

The designs champion practicality as well as aesthetic to suit the needs of the modern working woman [Azza Fahmy]

"My biggest challenge was finding somewhere to learn the art of jewellery design.  At that time the only place to attain that skill an apprenticeship in Khan El Khalili," she said.

"Whilst doing my day job, I trained as an apprentice with the masters of Khan El Khalili Egypt's ancient jewellery quarter, in the evenings for two years learning the art of jewellery making."

Things later picked up for Azza after she moved to London to complete her studies, before returning to Egypt to work on her brand.

London calling

"I have always been in love with England and having a store in London, let alone Burlington Arcade is a dream come true," Amina Ghali, the brand's Head of Design told The New Arab. 

"I remember Burlington Arcade from when I used to visit London as a kid, to think that our first European store is here is mind-blowing," she added.

But it isn't only Azza Fahmy that is benefiting from their new store, Amina explained that Burlington Arcade were also happy to have them open up the store, as it gives the arcade itself a unique edge with Azza Fahmy's designs. 

The pieces in the new London store flaunted Arab heritage, with inspirations coming from the likes of Oum Kulthum, Gebran Khalil Gebran and Rumi. 

Most people rely on typography nowadays, but we refuse to not use calligraphy


"Umm Kulthum revolutionised music as we know it today. People across the world have been inspired by her. Because she released a new song on the first Thursday of every month, the roads in Egypt used to be completely empty because people were glued to the radio, my dad told me," Amina said. A whole collection has been dedicated to the late Egyptian singer by Azza Fahmy.

A huge part of the pieces with lyrics and quotes is finding the right calligrapher, which is becoming more difficult: "Calligraphy is a dying art, which is really sad. Most people rely on typography nowadays, but we refuse to not use calligraphy because we want to do as much as we can to keep calligraphy artwork alive" said Amina.

To make sure the context is not lost on customers, a booklet is included with each item purchased describing the historic, cultural and lyrical connotations behind the piece. 

Empowering women

Fahmy's brand champions empowering women. Both Head of Design and the Managing Director are women, making Azza Fahmy a fast growing-female run Arab business. 

Fahmy herself champions giving back to communities that have inspired her brand.

"Part our business approach is to 'put back' to the community that has helped build our brand and so I dedicate a lot of time to working with organisations including the EU to empower women in Egypt and across the MEA [Middle East and Africa] region to enhance their skills to succeed commercially," she said.

These assymetrical earrings were inspired by African tribal body paint [Azza Fahmy]

Feminine identity is even growing in its designs, with the next collection which is to be launched at the end of May will have a women's empowerment theme, Amina told The New Arab.

Even the jewellery itself aims to give women their own autonomy as they accessorise. "The last thing I want is someone to ask her husband to help her take a piece of jewellery off at the end of the day, which is why I aim for practicality as well as aesthetic in my designs," Amina told The New Arab.

With the brand expanding and globalising, it will continue to stick to its roots. The female-dominated brand continues to grow, flaunting Middle Eastern and African heritage and leaving its mark wherever it goes.