During their childhood, all women had a special box full of elaborate hair accessories that they saved for special occasions. Each box harboured a pink butterfly that was added on a certain birthday, as well as a glittery bobby pin that was set to come out every year on the first day of school.
With time, the majority of boxes were pushed under the bed while others were lost forever. Nonetheless, not a single woman can ever completely forget about that one special container.
The Abdel Raouf sisters, founders of Okhtein, are proof that childhood accessories will always remain every woman’s favourite. After accomplishing a major local milestone by winning the Vogue Fashion Prize, the sisters Mounaz and Aya came back to Egypt to set a generation’s childhood memories wild.
In collaboration with Select for jewelry, Okhtein launched a fine jewelry collection that defies stereotypes.
“This collection is basically about the things that you think you had lost, such as bobby pins. As kids and grownups, we always end up losing them. The main idea was to turn them into valuable, fine jewelry,” said Mounaz.
The collection pays tribute to the 1990s biggest trends, such as chokers and metallic bobby pins. The “Golden 90s” collection intricately mixes gold and diamonds while maintaining a wearable fashion. The pieces are brilliant everyday choices for a wide spectrum of women; meanwhile, they can also be stacked easily.
“As kids, we loved accessorising ourselves with children accessories, like butterflies, bobby pins, and chokers—which are a trend now. We took those items and modernised them. For example, we mixed chokers with our signature lambskin leather,” said Aya.
The sisters applied their fresh twist on jewelry through turning bobby pins into golden earrings and statement pendants. On the other hand, they capitalised on one of the season’s top nostalgic trends: chokers. The collection includes daily chockers made of gold and diamonds, as well as others made with leather.
“When we started this collaboration last October, we wanted to ideally launch the first collection by summer 2016 to go along with our handbag collection, Future Nostalgia. The two collections are inspired by 1990s cartoons and prints,” said Aya.
According to the designers, the two collections complement each other. Therefore, they wanted to launch them in parallel. Nonetheless, since this is the sisters’ debut jewelry collection, it did take them longer than expected.
The statement collection is the result of a collaboration that aims to change jewelry-related stereotypes in Egypt. Mina Abdou Youssef, owner of Select for jewelry, contacted the sisters back in October 2015, in an attempt to shift his brand and start a new era of fine jewelry in Egypt.
“I approached Aya and Mounaz because they are an unquestionable synonym of style. I have always been a fan of Mounaz’ art. Furthermore, after their latest success, they have proven that they are up to global and local trends,” said Youssef.
Despite Select for jewelry’s heritage and valuable craftsmanship, the brand has been cornered in an ordinary style that only attracts a certain clientele.
“Jewelry in Egypt is often not up to fashion trends. Young clients already know that they will only find old designs that would appeal to their mother. Accordingly, we worked on this collaboration in order to reach out to a new clientele,” said Youssef.
“Younger generations would invest in accessories, but not in fine jewelry. It is such a shame because fine jewelry can last forever. It is an added value and it is worthy. We wanted to call the collection fine accessories, because it is playful but still jewelry,” said Mounaz.
Youssef believed that the Abdel Raouf sisters would be the right choice in order to reach a young, fresh audience that seeks to stand out from the crowd. “It is safe to say that they are one of the few entities that have managed to prove themselves internationally and people do look up to them everywhere,” said Youssef.
After months of meeting and sketching, the two entities were finally able to reach their great target and change misconceptions. “The girls helped me reach my main objective. They designed the entire collection,” said Youssef.
The founders are also keen on introducing yearly collections that tap into other forms of accessories. From scarves to covers for sunglasses and makeup bags, the brand has already surprised its clientele several times.
“This is proof that Okhtein is not just about handbags—we are an accessory brand. It was absolutely cool to collaborate with a renowned jewelry brand to showcase a new aspect of Okhtein,” said Mounaz.
The sisters also added that they are currently working on a permanent partnership with Select. Accordingly, the sisters will be launching more jewelry collections inspired by modern trends, executed through authentic craftsmanship.
“Craftsmanship is for sure a common factor between the two brands. When Mina first approached us, we instantly recognised the name. It is a very prestigious brand that our family knew. Meanwhile, they are a brand that has craftsmanship in its core, which is key to us,” said Aya
Furthermore, the two entities plan to start a new wave in the arena of fine jewelry. Okhtein and Select are set to give future brides the opportunity to wear bespoke jewelry on their big day.
“Brides are our main focus in this partnership. Modern brides want something that is fun and elegant. She no longer wants to borrow her mother’s jewelry,” said Mounaz.
“Brides can now come and have a meeting with Aya and Mounaz. The sisters will then sketch something specifically made for them, bespoke jewelry,” said Youssef.