Farah Hosny meets Laila Wahba, the intricate yet statement making designer behind one of the most unique jewellery brands making waves across Egypt's fashion scene, at our exclusive shoot at Marassi's Martin's Beach Lounge.
“When I started making statement necklaces a few years back, they weren’t popular at all!” says Laila Wahba, the founder and designer behind the chunky, creative pieces that signify upscale accessory brand LWBijouterie’s signature, statement-making style. “I was sort of the odd one out. The pieces were too big for mainstream taste in Egypt. The only people who were wearing them at the time were like, the characters on Gossip Girl!” she laughs.
Wahba started her eponymous brand three years ago, after she decided to abandon a corporate position in lieu of pursing a lifelong passion. “I’ve loved art ever since I can remember; I’ve always had a passion for painting, making collages, and collecting vintage pieces,” she explains. “So eventually after working for several years at the Ministry of State for Family and Population with UNICEF, I decided to leave my desk job and pursue my dream of creating custom-made jewellery.”
And the rest was history; the designer delved into the world of accessories – armed with only creativity and a set of self-taught skills – and started making big, bold pieces, before the whole statement necklace trend had caught on in Egypt. And yet, Wahba continued to create them, fusing elements and materials to make elaborate and unorthodox pieces and eventually she realised she was on to something and ahead of the Egyptian style curve; “Everyone loved them when I started, just as aesthetic pieces, but nobody actually knew how to wear them. But eventually people discovered that statement jewellery adds a lot to every outfit; you can pair them with the simplest of things and they instantly elevate the look.”
Veering towards large, out-of-the-box pieces was a combination of channeling the artist in her and seeing a space in the market for her unique brand of bold design. “When I started my line, I noticed that there wasn't a lot of variety in the market and the jewellery designs were very repetitive so I decided to create rich, handmade statement necklaces and they turned out to be refreshing and exactly what the market needed.” And to this day her pieces are unlike any other on the style scene in the city. You will never confuse LWBijouterie’s pieces with any other brand; such is their distinct identity. In fact, it’s a virtual impossibility with the singularly exceptional style of the pieces; many of which are such statement makers that they are outfits in and of themselves. “I mix and match material with no limits,” Wahba says. “And I use everything I like from semi-precious stones to copper, silver, and gold plated chains to buttons and fabric. Most of my materials are imported and with great quality but I really love to work the most with precious stones as they are locally handcrafted and picked by me.”
The pieces are edgy yet elegant, feature endless pops of colour, and intricate craftsmanship. Some feel worthy of a mid-century royal court, with a very costume jewellery aesthetic to them; the type of drool worthy pieces a duchess might have worn; while other infuse a healthy dose of funk with Popsicle-hued beads and quirky elements, like buttons of all things. But what they all have in common is their exceptionality, not only in terms of design, but quite literally, since Wahba only makes a grand total of two necklaces from each design. “All my pieces are hand-crafted. I take my time to hunt for original pieces from different places every season, I travel to find different things as well. After collecting the materials I start creating the seasons designs, I spend an average of three to six hours to finalise an item and I only produce 2 necklaces from each design.”
As such, each design boasts and unparalleled originality, an element which will continue in the brand, regardless of changes in trends. “Eventually trends change and people get bored, so I will definitely be presenting something new and different soon with my signature,” Wahba concludes. We don’t doubt it.
You can check them out on Instagram @lwbijouterie.
Shot on location at Martin's Beach Lounge.
Styling and Art Direction by Gehad Abdalla
Photography by Lobna Derbala
Hair by Mohamed Al Sagheer Salons
Makeup by Mahmoud Rashad
Shop the shoot: Black and orange beach coverups by Temraza; Gold top by Nada Akram; Jewellery by LWBijouterie.