Iconic Egyptian jeweller Azza Fahmy has teamed up with luxury fashion house Balmain to design a gold-plated bustier.
The contemporary piece, inspired by ancient Egypt, is sculptured in the shape of the Eye of Horus. “It reflects the heritage of our predecessors,” enthuses Azza Fahmy, founder of the brand, who sees this synergistic initiative as an opportunity to showcase the ingenuity of Egyptian designers to the world.
The collaboration came about right at the end of COVID. Although it was the first time that Azza Fahmy was experimenting with bigger pieces and body jewellery, they were ready for a new challenge.
“We’ve admired the work of Olivier and Balmain for a very long time; their designs have always spoken to us. When we heard that they were dedicating an entire collection to Ancient Egypt, we knew that the outcome would be phenomenal — and working with Egyptian designers on different pieces shows how much respect the brand has to the cultures that they portray in their work,” says Amina Ghali, Head of Design.
As for Balmain’s latest collection, Olivier Rousteing, returned to one of his favourite inspirations: Egypt and its extraordinary history. “Ever since I was a young child, I’ve been obsessed with the power of the pharaohs’ massive pyramids, soaring obelisks and sumptuous royal treasures.
“Obviously, Azza Fahmy’s designs have been greatly influenced by that incredible history as well, so, it seemed only natural to reach out to her to collaborate on the creation of this beautiful hand-carved, precious bustier. Those who share our passion will be able to quickly recognise the many icons of ancient Egypt.
“And I especially love how this special creation helps to make very clear that those same age-old symbols possess an incomparable power of forever appearing incredibly modern — even futuristic,” says Rousteing, Balmain’s Creative Director.
The bustier made in brass and plated in gold employs several techniques — hand piercing, filling, hammering and welding. “My mother is especially happy to be educating the world about our rich history and culture.
“Each collection represents an in-depth research journey into a certain era, and it’s incredible how a culture that is more than 7,000 years old still continues to inspire the world today,” Amina adds.
Fahmy and the team worked for months using cardboard, paper and eventually brass until they perfected the piece and were happy with it. For a previous Pharaonic collections designed from 2012 and 2015, Azza and Amina spent twelve years researching ancient Egypt and the symbols to present a collection that paid tribute to their ancestors.
The bustier was thus designed in a form reminiscent of a golden Ptolemaic plaque and those found among the treasures of Tutankhamun. “A gold-plated bustier sculpted in the shape of the Eye of Horus.
“The lotus element represents the sun, rebirth and creation. Complementing the back of the bustier are the hand-pierced wings outstretched across both sides, evoking the protective wings of the goddess Nekhbet.
“A chain with a scarab adorns the back of the piece, representing creation, renewal, and rebirth.”
Symbolism informs the design of the piece. “The bustier is mainly designed with the Eye of Horus; we wanted to add other symbols that go in harmony with it — and Nekhbet was definitely the best option.
“She is the patron of the Pharaoh and is often shown spread over the king with her wings. She comes in the shape of a vulture, who was the guardian of Upper Egypt.
“Symbols and words of affirmation are often seen in most of our pieces and we wanted to deliver our identity with the design we worked on with Balmain,” says Amina.
How did the idea for the six Shen Rings to hold the accessory in place, come about? “After creating such an impressive piece, we did not want to use a simple lock.
“We made sure that every angle of the bustier had a strong meaning. The Shen Ring was a symbol of protection and eternity in Ancient Egypt.
“It looks like circle with a tangent line at one end. However, what it actually represents is a stylised loop of rope with closed ends, which creates a knot and a closed ring,” she explains.