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The Ottomans return to Cairo!
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 02 - 02 - 2010

The atmosphere speaks of calligraphy and Islamic artworks, along with the magical history and architecture of her homeland, influencing her style, which can be described as a harmonious mixture of the Oriental, opulent and modern.
She is the jewellery designer Zeynep Hanif, who has come to Egypt from Turkey, a country with a very diverse blend of Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions.
She is originally an economist, but her passion for jewellery designing took her to that marvellous world, in which she fashions her Turkish Islamic tradition into jewellery.
“I adore the Islamic places in Egypt. Khan el-Khalili and el-Hussein district really inspire me and have had a great impact on my work,” Zeynep told the Egyptian Mail in an interview.
“I like the Pharoanic designs and the big stones they used, as well as the calligraphy,” she said, at the opening of her new boutique on Le Pasha Boat, Zamalek last week.
Zeynep, one of the most famous designers in Turkey, was educated in Istanbul. After university, she took an extensive two-year private jewellery designing course.
She started designing jewellery back in 1999, before opening her first shop in Istanbul in 2001.
Zeynep made her debut in the Turkish market, exhibiting her first jewellery collection at the International Jewellery Show in Istanbul.
In 2004, the Mayor of Bahscehir Municipality in Istanbul invited her to give a special showcasing of her work. The following year, her exhibition at the Alkent 2000 Yeditepe, which is considered the Beverly Hills of Istanbul, was very well received.
She then lived in Pakistan for a while, before finally settling in Cairo with her husband 14 years ago.
It seems that her travelling has had a great impact on her designs. As a Turk, her jewellery designs defer to the Ottoman style that appears in the palaces and jewellery of royalty.
“From Pakistan I've learned how to mix colours, because Pakistani people wear very colourful dresses, very colourful jewellery,” Zeynep said.
In fact, it's not her first boutique in Egypt, as she already has a main branch in Nile Street in Giza.
The idea of opening a shop in Cairo first came about in 2008 when the wife of the Turkish Ambassador to Egypt, Safak Gokturk, hosted a fashion show at their residence to introduce Zeynep to Cairene society.
“I then thought to myself, I'm living here so why not start in Cairo?” Zeynep said.
Her new boutique presents a collection of the latest designs and handmade jewellery.
All the attendees at the opening, including Turkish Ambassador Huseyin Avni Botsali and his wife, staff from the Turkish Embassy, members of the Turkish community in Egypt and elite Egyptian figures and media people, expressed their admiration of her latest collection, especially the materials she has used.
Her designs are modern with a touch of Ottoman and Islamic culture, which makes them unique.
"I normally start a new piece of jewellery with a beautifully cut stone. I'm always aware of the latest lines in the world and I love mixing gold, brass and silver. They blend together harmoniously, to create the most beautiful pieces.
"I love the old royal jewellery and it inspires me. I've recently been using the old Ottoman designs and making them bigger. Instead of diamonds, I used very colourful stones like ruby or emerald that look fantastic."
About the fashion this year, she said: "Big stones, with more purple. I also add copper to the gold, silver and brass. It's an incredible combination."
In order to keep jewellery bright for a long time, she advises that it is best to keep it in its box, while it should be cleaned with a mixture of carbonate and salt.
Jewellery is the secret weapon of every female. A subtle pair of earrings, a bracelet full of bling, or a bold gemstone pendant necklace all add a particularly personal touch to an outfit and, over time, each individual woman's accessory style becomes part of her signature look.
Unlike clothing, Zeynep stressed, the most beautiful jewellery is timeless, so it can be worn again and again, with almost any outfit.
However, just like clothing, jewellery colours and designs must be tailored to the individual wearer to complement her natural features best. Women should keep it in mind that accessories are their opportunity to make their ensemble specifically theirs and to develop their own very personal style.
"I love to help my customers choose the particular pieces of jewellery which best express their personality. I let them choose the design they want then make it,” added Zeynep, whose next step will be a defilé, sometime in the next few months, to showcase her summer 2010 collection.


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