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Shining bright
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 11 - 12 - 2014

“What type of woman are you? Accessories tell us about your personality. They give a feminine look and accentuate a woman's beauty,” says Egyptian accessories designer Heba Makled, who started working from home in 2009 using a delicate mixture of silver and copper and a large variety of semi-precious stones.
“Starting from day one I was a professional,” she added. “I made a new brand bearing my name and designed a logo for it. I tried to make my designs look unique and different.”
Makled now has her own online store, Website and Facebook page. “Soon I will have my own physical store as well,” she says. “My working practices have always been the same: first I draw sketches, then the craftsmen in my workshop manufacture them, and then I make the final touches with my own hands.”
She has made accessories for the famous movie star Mai Ezzeddin when Ezzeddin was playing the role of Wasila in the TV series Al-Shak (The Doubt). “I designed all the accessories for the character in the series,” Makled says, following on from her success as one of 400 Egyptian women entrepreneurs who took the Goldman Sachs Women's Entrepreneurship and Leadership course at the American University in Cairo in 2012 for a project promoting crocodile accessories.
Makled was the first Egyptian designer to design and produce crocodile accessories for women, such as necklaces and bracelets. She always looks out for the latest trends from international fashion houses in terms of colours, fabrics, cuts and designs. “An accessory should suit a woman's lifestyle and add a little sparkle to her world. The simple combination of what you wear and an accessory can create that elegant look, allowing women to mix and match depending on where they are going and how they are feeling,” she said.
Today, Makled uses seashells in her designs, saying that these can be easily shaped and match many different types of outfit. Seashell-based accessories are also ideal for bridal gowns, she adds, since they can be used instead of the traditional pearls. Wedding tiaras, headpieces, headbands, hairclips and combs are all back in fashion in a big way this year, Makled adds.
Dark colours like grey, black and brown are fashionable, and in terms of materials metals like silver, gold or copper are all being worn. Exciting new trends in accessory making include using leather cord mixed with other materials for bracelets, necklaces, earrings and belts. Rings and earrings of different sizes are fashionable, and women should feel free to wear midi rings on all five fingers, Makled says.
Men, too, should not hesitate to accessorise. Makled designs accessories for men including cufflinks, tie pins, money clips and cigarette cases.
Another accessories designer, Rania Adel Kamel, makes Al Kaheela (eye lined with Arabian kohl) accessories, having decided to leave her job in a bank in order to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer. “At first I started making gifts and presents for the friends of my children and relatives. They admired my designs and asked for more, so I established my own online store on Facebook and have been working for three years now,” she said.
All her designs are made of metals like copper, silver and gold adorned with gems or semi-precious stones. Copper comes in two main colours, yellow and red, and for Kamel it is increasingly fashionable at the moment. “Many women like yellow copper because it gives the look and feel of gold. Gold jewellery is very expensive these days,” she says.
In the autumn and winter season she prefers to use gems or stones in her designs like garnets and zircon. Colours this year include black, brown and olive, along with dark-yellow stones the colour of mustard.
Her favourite is natural pearls, which dominate her pieces. “Pearls are suitable for all occasions, whether casual or formal,” Kamel says, advising women to wear non-plated copper with pearls in the mornings and gold-plated copper pieces with pearls in the evenings because of their glitter.
Necklace designs are short this year, Kamel says, adding that she has a line of long or short length necklaces with detachable chains for veiled women that are particular attractive. New designs for rings include two or multi-finger rings, thumb rings, and midi pieces like sets of stacking rings.
Kamel's designs feature silver or gold-plated copper pieces that can have customers' names engraved on them. She adds an Islamic flavour to her work through her use of traditional Arabic calligraphy. “What differentiates the work from other designs in the market is the distinctive quality. Each piece is highly plated. Not many designers use copper with stones,” she says.
Kamel has participated in several exhibitions, and her work has been shown in the US and other countries abroad. Before designing any accessory piece she talks with clients to find out their preferences in terms of shape, size, materials and budget. Her husband also helps her in her work. “My husband works in computers and marketing. I draw design sketches for my pieces on computer, which helps the workshop craftsmen to realise them,” she says.
Copper, one of Kamel's favourite materials, changes colour over time, and in order for it to maintain its colour it needs to be coated or plated to keep it bright and shiny. Polish can also be used, and Kamel advises using a mixture of lemon juice and warm water for optimal results. Just rub the liquid onto the copper surface using a soft dry cloth, she says, and the copper will come up looking just like new.


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