Monday, February 6, 2012


L.A. Bracelet with Brass Chain and
Embroidered Swarovski Crystals
The gentle sway of wheat stalks resemble a golden carpet setting just below the commanding Chartres Cathedral of France. 

The 16th century Gothic structure is among France’s best examples of this foreboding architectural style.  

France is also the current home of featured jewelry designer Shourouk Rhaiem.

One of the first thoughts that comes to mind when viewing online collections of statement jewelry from designers like Tom Binns (Ireland), Ranjana Khan (India), and American brands DANNIJO and Fenton-Fallon is vintage-inspired.

For the most part minimalist jewelry designs are deemed “classic” or “timeless” by virtue of their pared down outlines; however, for me a lot of chunky, statement jewelry seems influenced by vintage eras which also makes these designs timeless in their own way.

When I viewed Rhaiem’s alternately subdued and vivid online gallery of necklaces, brooch pins and headbands they evoked imagery of Roaring 20s flapper girls.  Her combinations of black Swarovski diamonds, silver and gold metal sequins, tassels and embroidery reflect her penchant for distressed surface components within clean silhouettes; they embody a wonderful retro look.

“I like making a story with my jewelry,” says the former textile designer.  “I build my designs in increments.  I make all of these tiny embroideries and just keep placing them together until I am happy with the patterns and colors of beads and crystals.”

A native of Tunisia, Africa Rhaiem’s use of embroidery is informed by the lovely sequin designs she saw as a child.  “My love for embroidery comes from my youth.  In Tunisia there is a type of embroidery made from silver sequins.  It is really beautiful work.”

Rita Cadillace Necklace with Swarovski Crystals and Beads

While employed with fashion houses John Galliano, Roberto Cavalli, and Chloe Rhaiem constantly envisioned her intricate embroidered work as jewelry accessories.  Due to this creative restlessness in 2008 she decided to bring her unique voice to the jewelry industry.

Rhaiem packs on opposing elements like pink neon plastic sequins, oxidized sterling silver chains and Swarovski spikes and to offset this somewhat subversive tone she implements whimsical imagery of shimmering snakes, flowers and birds.

“When I design my jewelry I am inspired by classic jewelry brands like Cartier but I try to make it more fun and funky.  Fashion is not serious so I like approaching my designs with a sense of humor.”

Understandably, Rhaiem’s glamorous high-fashion designer jewelry is very much in demand. Her jewelry collections are a favorite of Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Michelle Obama’s stylist asked me to do headbands for her when she traveled to London last year.

Ursula Tiara with Swarovski Spikes and Tassels
She doesn’t like hats and she needed to wear something on her head,” Rhaiem explains. “I love hair ornaments. I think they look very beautiful on women and they give light to the face.”
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