Born with a free soul within the boundaries of tradition and norms, she has a strong bond with nature and a strong urge to let her dreams run wild. Malika is a girl that all women carry inside their souls. She has a driving stamina to explore, travel, and change realities.
Jewellery designer Menna Khalil fell in love with Bahaa Taher’s literate masterpiece, Sunset Oasis, a few months ago. In a matter of a few sleepless nights, Khalil’s interpretation of the novel’s core came out in the form of earrings and rings.
From vibrant red to captivating blue, Khalil made sure to deliver a major statement through her authentic and rustic collection. The local designer did not only narrate the lifestyle of Siwa’s bedouins, but she also made sure to include the culture of the Amazigh she met in Morocco.
Daily News Egypt sat down with Khalil to talk about Siwan nature, Taher’s Sunset Oasis, and the Amazigh culture.
What was the main inspiration behind this collection?
As always, it all started with a book: Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher. The main character, Malika, as well as Siwa itself inspired me to create a collection based on the Amazigh. People mistakenly think that they only live in the Moroccan and Algerian deserts; however, they live in nine countries, including Egypt.
Tribal fashion has been the focus of many regional and international designers during the past few seasons. What are the aspects that you wanted to further highlight or correct?
What I wanted to highlight through this collection is the link I created between the novel, Siwa, and the Amazigh. I wanted to focus on our relationship with the desert and the influence of tribal life on its residence.
I tried to turn Malika into reality through the photoshoot and the quotes I chose from the book.
What are the common factors between Malika and your clientele?
Malika is a kid who was too wild to settle for the life she had. I imagine that the ladies who would want to wear this collection are just as wild. Accordingly, the majority of the stones I used for this collection are raw. Meanwhile, I added a lot of wire work.
On the other hand, the collection is built around vintage, ethnic charms. I have been collecting vintage silver from many Arab countries for a couple of years now and I made sure to incorporate them in the majority of this collection. You cannot buy a brand new Amazigh item, which is why I made sure to add a rustic and vintage feel to all the pieces.
The girl who would wear this collection is someone that is proud about her origins and ancestors. She is a nomad girl, who wants to tell the world that she came from the desert. The collection’s colour scheme is inviting; it is inspired by the surrounding colours in Siwa, namely the palm trees, the sand, and the water.
What stones did you depend on?
Turquoise is the key stone in this collection, especially the greenish type because it reminds me of nature’s genuine beauty. I also used the transparent yellow Citrine and rare African beads to resemble the tribe’s existence in Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
On the other hand, I have bought a lot of sea shells from Siwa in order to keep this collection as authentic as possible. Meanwhile, there is a lot of red Morgan.
What is next on your agenda?
People currently categorise me as the cultured jewellery designer, who depends on literature and art as main sources of inspiration. Literature and art are part of my personal journey, but it also includes countries that I have visited, love stories, political beliefs, etc.
Most likely, my coming collection will be based on feminist ideologies, which is very close to me. Mona El-Tahawy and Nawal El-Saadawy are two of my closest friends. I am an aggressive feminist and it is about time to express this through my work.
I have reached a certain level of artistic maturity that can allow me to tap into this topic. I am ready to support a crucial cause through jewellery. I want to openly discuss society, taboos, circumcision, and virginity.