From Emirati jewellers to Beirut handbag ateliers: 10 regional accessories designers to watch out for
The latest in the series championing regional talent, we round up the top creators of bags and jewellery
Accessories are the unsung heroes of fashion. Without the scale of a show-stopping dress, good bags and great jewellery often get overlooked. Yet, it is this small scale that makes these pieces so intriguing, focusing not on the pizzazz of a loud outfit, but on attention to detail and the sense of intimacy that creates.
Sitting next to the skin, jewellery is incredibly personal; while a bag is so much more than just a place to store things, but an extension of ones style. Picking a good accessory can elevate a look to new heights, adding a perfect focal point, or stopping a look from being too serious.
With so many brands out there, here we pick our top 10 regional accessories designers:
Khouri’s eponymous line is less about jewellery and more about pieces of art, scaled to be worn. Hailing from Beirut, this imaginative designer takes her inspiration from nature, creating unexpected jewels such as a centipedes captured as a brooch or playful frogs that hang as earrings. Using oxidised gold and gemstones, (think black diamonds and rubies) the pieces are far from predictable, but instead wearable precious sculptures.
This Beiruti jewellery line began in in 2010, and fuses jewellery with architecture in a way that will appeal to purists. Thanks to the graphic design background of founder, Margherita Abi-Hanna, each collection is stripped of excess, and pared back to breathtakingly simple design, such as the Ring and A Half that covers one finger and extends over to the next, or an entire collection inspired by the simple geometry of windows.
Founded in Dubai in 2017 by a Swedish / English duo, this Jumeirah bag label is smart, chic and extremely wearable. Offering a tightly curated range – in strictly limited-editions – French leather is transformed into pieces such as the Chilluxe, a delightfully slouchy rectangular bag with flap, or the Bento Bagpack, which as the name suggests is pleasingly box-like, with two elegant shoulder straps. With colour options including fruity shades of figue, papaya, avo and mango, and straps available to match or contrast at will, this is definitely one for the style conscious.
Set up in 2000 as a bag label and social enterprise, Sarah’s Bag is where fashion meets community. Aimed at helping Lebanon’s poorest and most disadvantaged women, founder Sarah Beydoun set about training a team of women to be artisans, creating handmade bags for sale. Twenty years later, Sarah’s Bag is famous for its intricate and often playful designs that include satin clutches with beaded horoscopes and bridal purses that read "Just Married".
A firm favourite among A-listers (think Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway) this label is known for its simple box clutches and bags adorned with hand-applied shell mosaics. Delicate, unique and utterly beautiful, each bag is different and could have taken up to three hundred hours to create. The brand doesn't just offer evening clutches – more recently, options for the day, such as a mini bucket bag with linen pouch inner lining and a structured bag with an asymmetric handle, have joined the ranks.
Vinita Michael Jewellery
Designer and gemologist Vinita Michael draws on centuries of jewellery-making skill in India to bring her elaborate and very feminine designs to life. With a huge range of earrings, rings and necklaces, with charming names such as Chasing Dragonflies and First rays of the Winter Sun, her delicate and pretty pieces are loved by celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra and Sonam Kapoor.
Emirati fine jewellery brand Gafla pays homage to its heritage thought the use of regional symbols and motifs. Pearls are the star of the Bahar range, best worn as multiple strands bunched together, while the Marsa range translates the shape of dhows into simple, elegant rings. For those looking for something more literal, look to Merwad, which rethinks the the traditional perfume bottle and wand into gem-encrusted, colourful necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings.
Another brand from Beirut is Marzook, known for its famous Orb bag – a perfect sphere of plexiglass, and often covered in hundreds of Swarovski crystals. High-end, dazzling and extremely well-made, this is for women who like their fashion to bang up to date, but with a unique flair. Entirely hand-made and injected with a good dash of fun, new season pieces include a Mini Orb covered in burnt orange crystals and fringed with a halo of hand-dyed feathers called the Sunflower.
Describing itself as a maker of "modern day artefacts", this dual Egyptian and UK house conjures unique, eye-catching designs that are the new classics. Spanning both bags and jewellery, and leaning on the rich history of Ancient Egypt, it creates astonishingly beautiful pieces such a minaudiere bag made with gold leaf floated in plexiglass, or a bold wrist cuff inspired by the gods Osiris, Isis and Horus. Ancient inspiration is brought up to date by this resolutely contemporary brand.
Moni & J
Established in 2012 by Syrian designer Manar Laktineh, this high-end bag brand is headquartered in Kuwait, with an atelier in Lebanon. With a focus on structured bags in premium materials, Moni & J carries traditional shapes such as the vintage-inspired Jida, with its top handle, and the sleek modern rectangular M Clutch, which is draped in the metallic wings of an eagle. Many of the bags carry this beautiful bird as an emblem across the front and even capping the shoulders of frame bags.
Updated: April 6, 2020 11:33 AM