NourZen accessories, designed by Nagwa El Alfy, are a real treat. They’re unique, quirky and they definitely make a statement. The authenticity of the designs, combined with the quality of the material makes each piece a work of art. We went to Nourzen’s exhibition in Alchemy and got a chance to speak to Nagwa about her work.
This is like any woman’s dream job. Have you always known you wanted to design accessories?
I’ve always liked to work with my hands. I have many ideas all the time; so, I do whatever I fall in love with. I did sewing and making clothes, then candle-making for 12 years and now this. It has to be something that I love and like to have plenty of but maybe cannot afford it so I start making it. I thank god every day for being able to do this.
When coming up with new designs is it better to follow trends and make them your own or to come up with entirely new styles?
I never follow any trends, even in my clothes. If I like it and I am comfortable in it then I’ll go for it. The same goes for whatever I make, it has to be comfortable, pretty and it has to suit you. You can set a trend if you like!
We are witnessing a surge of new designing talents these days. Does that make the job more exciting?
Absolutely. You get inspired! Imagine if no one was making anything better than what you’re doing, it would be horrible. You can be inspired by anything, paintings, clothes, a good culinary chef or nature. And talented people have a contagious energy. When you’re among creative people, you do much better than when you’re on your own.
What do you think of new talents?
They’re amazing. Young, creative people are doing excellent jobs. They’re not pushovers, either; they’re fighting. They know their way and now that you have the internet, everything is at the tip of your fingers. They’re using it and they’re very good.
Your work has a lot of vintage and oriental elements. Where do you draw inspiration from?
It has to do with your background, what you do, the places you go when you want to leave your natural environment and your own likes and dislikes. For example, I can’t see myself as a minimalist. However, there are other designers who are minimalists. They will come up with things according to their nature.
I’m fascinated by authenticity and colors in general. If something is not authentic, if I’m not in love with it and I’m not sure I can wear it all the time, I don’t show it to anyone. I will wake up one day wanting to work with a certain fabric or stone or both together and I will go ahead and something good comes out most of the time.
Many designers advise women with cool skin undertones to pick silver colored accessories and women with warm skin undertones to go for gold or brass colored accessories. Do you think this is necessary or should a woman wear whatever she likes?
Whatever she feels beautiful in. As long as you feel beautiful, decent and comfortable.
What about the size of accessories? We’re told a plus size woman shouldn’t wear small pieces.
I don’t believe in that at all.
When it comes to shopping for accessories, is it quality over quantity?
It depends on who you are. For me, it’s quality over quantity. I wore the same thing for 20 years now and I cannot get rid of it, I love it. I’d rather put all my money in one thing that’s really authentic that I really love. Then again, it depends on who you are.