Jewels inspired by the sun, sand and sea

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Updated 24 March 2015

Jewels inspired by the sun, sand and sea

Every now and then some large fashion house or jewelry line creates a trend of its own, something unique and significant yet fashion houses around the world catch up on the trend and the “uniqueness” and significance is merged, turning this trend into the new norm for the season. Jewelry also follows the same pattern, yet there are those who break that cycle and create something unusual yet amazing at the same time. The art of wearing jewelry is to make a statement and speak for one’s choice of fashion. Who doesn’t love a diamond necklace or pearl earrings? Everyone! But there are those who are more connected to their jewelry and Lorena Azizeh Abuabara is one of the most unique designers out there with her beautiful jewelry designs all incorporated with nature and her love for it.
From a tender age, young Lorena had a love for jewelry making. Picking up fallen beads as she visited Neiman Marcus while shopping with her mother, she would then go home and create necklaces with her little treasures. Her love for beads and jewelry continued to grow as did her love for making them. She started collecting stones and beads from all over the world. At the age of 13, she interned with her mother’s jewelry designer friend and learned about the business. She learned how to melt gold, solder and get involved with the real world of jewelry designing. Her hobby turned into an eponymous jewelry business not found anywhere else.
During her college years, she signed up for a jewelry design class but soon dropped out due to lack of creativity, which didn’t suit young Lorena’s wild spirit. With no official education prior to creating her own jewelry business, this designer continued on with her passion for creating unique pieces all on her own. Her love for colors, statement pieces and nature was all that was needed to succeed in the jewelry designing world.
“In college I started making myself large statement pieces because I couldn’t find any jewelry I liked anywhere. Everyone was wearing the same pieces and I hated that. People quickly noticed my unique designs and would stop me to ask about them and would even beg to buy them off me. I never thought or planned to make a business out of it, I just stumbled into it. By word of mouth my clientele basis grew and that is how ‘Azizeh’ the brand began.”
Her line comprises different handmade pieces; all one of a kind. Her large chunky bracelets, large rings and necklaces are adorned with colorful stones, weaved with large crystals, semi-precious stones, gems, beads, tassels and threads all intertwined in a way only Lorena can. Her designs are loud and personal; she also uses amethyst crystals and turquoise with healing powers and metaphysical properties. The designer is connected to her spirituality in a way that shows in her choice of collaborations. After living in Maui, Hawaii for two years, she has become attuned to her spiritual side and connection to the universe. In her words, the magical energy of Maui makes everyone appreciate nature, life and everything about it.
“I like embracing individuality. I find inspiration in anything and everything! From the grinds that come out of my juicer to the coral in the ocean.”
The art of creation doesn’t just pop up suddenly, artists find inspiration in every turn and incorporate it in their work, resulting in creative designs and Lorena’s keen eye, travels and inspirations surround her along with her choice of lifestyle. Her choice of semi-precious gems and stones are collected from all over the world and Hawaii’s natural wonders have influenced the designs greatly, getting in touch with nature one on one. Since starting her business in 2005, Lorena has expanded her designs to bags and clutches using the same motif she uses in her jewelry with the addition of sea shells, ethnic patterns, and large charms.
The designer’s bohemian chic pieces speak loudly and have gained attention amongst A-list Hollywood stars; they have been featured in a number of magazine spreads and are a favorite amongst bloggers and beach lovers with a flair for a laid back bohemian style.
Lorena is very adherent about being exceptional and is against mass production for her line, this is due to her rare connection with her pieces and wanting each piece to be special on their own.
For more information on Lorena’s beautiful statement pieces, follow her on her Instagram page Lorena Azizeh. Her jewelry is sold in Four Seasons Resorts worldwide, and customers can contact her personally through her website

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Why Bollywood can’t get enough of fashion from the Arab world

No major red-carpet event in India is complete without at least a couple of leading ladies wearing a gown from an Arab designer. (AFP)
Updated 41 min 15 sec ago

Why Bollywood can’t get enough of fashion from the Arab world

  • When Indian cinema’s leading ladies need to slay on the red carpet, they are increasingly turning to Middle East designers.

DUBAI: Bollywood has long been popular in the region. The Gulf is Indian cinema’s largest overseas market, and — in return — Bollywood has fallen in love with fashion from the Middle East. The two have plenty in common: not least a passion for opulence, (melo)drama and craftsmanship.

No major red-carpet event in India is complete without at least a couple of leading ladies wearing a gown from an Arab designer — and designers from, or based in, the Middle East are increasingly becoming the “go-to” for Indian actors at international film festivals too. At the most recent edition of the Cannes Film Festival, for example, Priyanka Chopra wore a white strapless gown from Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika, Aishwarya Rai wore a white gown by Beirut-based Ashi Studio, Kangana Ranaut opted for a sheer embroidered gown by Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco and Diana Penty was spotted in a yellow dress with feather details by Oman’s Atelier Zuhra.

Mohit Rai, one of India’s leading celebrity stylists, started his career with Harper’s Bazaar India and made the switch to working with Bollywood several years ago. His client list includes Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonakshi Sinha and Shilpa Shetty. He says, “The Middle East is the only other region apart from India that really appreciates a high level of couture and craftsmanship. Their common aesthetic is a major reason for Indian stylists looking to Middle Eastern fashion. Plus, Arab designers are able to combine the Parisian and European flair for pattern cutting while retaining the Indian love for embellishment.” 

With many designers from the Middle East showing at Paris Couture Week (this year, Maison Rabih Kayrouz became the second Arab designer after Elie Saab to be authorized by the French Couture Federation to use the tag haute couture), they understand silhouette and tailoring, and because the region has a heritage of handcrafted beading and threadwork, they are able to marry the best of East and West.

Dubai-based Syrian designer Rami Al-Ai recently worked with Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor Khan. “We both appreciate the same beauty, and there’s a lot of similarity in the way they celebrate life. Both have this kind of dramatic celebration when it comes to weddings and functions.” Indeed, when Deepika Padukone married Ranveer Singh last year, she turned to acclaimed Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad for one of her wedding looks.

There are designers in India who specialize in red-carpet fashion, and while their surface embellishments are impeccable, their fit often is not on par with their embroidery. Historically Indian fashion is more about drape than construction, as Rai points out.

“I do not think India has enough designers catering to the Western evening wear segment in a very couture category such as the Middle Eastern ones,” he tells Arab News.

His favoured Arab designers include Beirut-band ased Saudi Arabian designer Mohammed Ashi of Ashi Studio, Kuwait’s Yousef Al-Jasmi, Dubai based Atelier Zuhra. Whereas Hollywood tends to go with the region’s best-known designers such as Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad — who both have a strong international retail presence — Bollywood is happy to work with both seasoned and emerging designers.

A shared aesthetic is what makes Arab design appeal to Bollywood’s stylists, but there is also a more pragmatic reason for the synergy between the Bollywood red carpet and Middle Eastern fashion: Their geographical proximity.

Ami Patel is one of the best-known celebrity stylists in India and works with stars including Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt and Kananga Ranaut. She finds it easier to work with the Middle East than Europe, she says.

“I think Middle Eastern designers understand the Indian body type and silhouette very well. They know exactly what Indian celebrities want and cater to them. Since the countries are in close proximity working with them becomes easier.”

Patel adds that she finds designers from the region can work on quick turnarounds and are able to tweak designs when needed. Indian women do tend to be curvy, so regular European sample sizes are often just not an option for many of India’s leading ladies. And whereas European fashion houses may have only heard of Indian actors who have done international work — such as Priyanka Chopra or Deepika Padukone — designers from the Middle East are familiar with the landscape of Indian cinema, meaning they are easier to approach. As Patel says, “Middle Eastern designers follow Bollywood films and stars very closely and it’s a great amalgamation which has some really great outcomes.” 

One recent look of which Patel is particularly proud is Alia Bhatt’s appearance in a midnight-black Zuhair Murad gown at the Indian International Film Academy Awards in New York.

“It was a really special look for me,” she says. “The gown was stunning; it had such beautiful delicate embroidery which gave an illusion as if the entire constellation of stars had descended onto Alia.”

The fact that the region is so close to India also means that Indian celebrities regularly visit the Middle East.

“A lot of Indian celebrities are doing a lot of events in the Middle East, and that plays a big role in picking what kind of outfits to wear,” says Rai.

Dubai designer Rami Al-Ali agrees. “Bollywood stars are also celebrities in the Middle East world,” he says.

“Since the Middle East is actually aligned with the industry, they are definitely keener on dressing Indian stars and even willing to customise and size outfits for our actors,” says Rai. And so, for Indian cinema, it is Arab designers who rule the red carpet.