Eugenie Niarchos and Noor Fares are not just two promising young women, fierce travellers and members of the elite squad. They are my favourite jewellery designers. Embodying the future – that is already here.
A blend of landscapes inhabited by intriguing living creatures and remarkable for its powerful natural phenomena. The jewels are the aesthetic synthesis that Eugenie Niarchos finds in them – – a balanced fusion of retro and futuristic aesthetics.
A keen traveller, Eugenie collects inspiring imagery from her many journeys and carefully nurtures them on Venyx world as the starting point for her creations.
When I first met her on the island of Mykonos, she had just debuted Reptilia, her first collection – that honoured the beauty of reptile skins in a futuristic way. Inevitably, Ι fell in love with every single piece. Then there was Theiya and Oceanyx. And every time I visit the island, I always, always, always, spend quite a few hours at Belvedere Hotel, where Venyx World boutique is at home.
As for Noor Fares… Based in London, she creates jewellery which fuses together her Lebanese heritage and contemporary sensibility. Her strong belief in the talismanic quality of jewellery, as a carrier of special meaning and stones imbued with a certain mysticism, informs her work. Growing up surrounded by strong women, from her mother Hala Fares, an avid collector of objects, art, jewels to witnessing unbound creativity in her aunt’s Parisian atelier, Noor creates for a woman who structures the world according to her own vision.
Since launching in 2009 Noor Fares has been coveted the world over by renowned stockists including Net-a-Porter, Dover Street Market and Bergdorf Goodman. Noor’s effervescent designs have been seen on some of most stylish and respected women internationally, ranging from Diane von Furstenberg, Kate Winslet, Naomi Harris, Olga Kurylenko and Lily James.
Today the brand continues to grow with Noor launching her first ever couture collection Atelier Mystique in July 2015. And do note this: previously Fares collaborated with Zaha Hadid on a conceptual pop-up store, bridging her love of jewellery and design.
I met them both in Athens, a few days ago, over quite a few glasses of Moët & Chandon – our favorite champagne. They were here for 48 hours – a result of their collaboration with Ileana Makri and her downtown boutique, a bubbly and immensely colorful and attractive pop up.
The bond between them was strong and enviable, one was actually finishing the sentence of the other. And you could see: together they were even stronger. Yes, they are both extremely talented jewellery designers, and their background is quite similar. And although their collections are different from one another, they almost magically complement (and complete) each other.
Like two Moët bubbles in the same champagne glass…
ON PERSONAL STYLE
Who is your favorite fashion designer in the world?
E.N.: I admire the work of Azzedine Alaia as he has always created timeless, beautiful and elegant pieces. Right now I am really into Alessandro Michele’s work for Gucci.
N.F.: Azzedine Alaia. For the exact same reason.
Who would you die to collaborate with?
N.F.: My little Pony!
What was your last purchased item? Can you remember?
E.N.: I recently bought an amazing Ethiopian Opal which I love, through a stone dealer.
N.F.: A pair of gold ankle bracelets from Venyx, I am in love with them and never take them off!
What perfume do you wear?
E.N.: Fleur d’Oranger by Serge Lutens.
N.F.: I wear Rose Damascene by Bully.
What watch do you wear?
E.N.: I am not a watch person but I was given the Cartier Crash watch which I am obsessed with.
N.F.: I don’t wear a watch either…
What sunglasses do you wear?
E.N.: I love vintage sunglasses but right now I am wearing round sunnies by The Row. They look like they are straight out from the 90’s.
N.F.: Round yellow sunglasses by Cutler and Gross.
Which are your favorite colors?
E.N.: I love electric orange, electric blue and I have always love light pink.
N.F.: I love the colors of the sky at sunrise, when yellow blends in with shades of pink and blue.
Name the one piece of clothing, jewellery or accessory you simply could not imagine life without.
E.N.: My iPhone and my flat Saint Laurent booties.
N.F.: My American Apparel Disco Pants and my Fly me To the moon wing earrings.
Which fabric describes you and your personal style best?
N.F.: Navy blue velvet.
Name the woman you have looked up to, while growing up. Who inspired you to be the woman you have become?
E.N.: Diane von Fustemburg has always inspired me professionally and pushed me to follow my dreams. My Mother and Grandmother were the women I have always looked up to while growing up.
N.F.: I grew up surrounded by strong creative women – my grandmother, my mother and my aunt. My grandmother has been (and still is) a great inspiration every day of my life.
What is the first thing you would teach your daughter, in things style?
E.N.: To be herself and to create her own style based on her body-type.
N.F.: I would teach her to not be scared, to take risks and have fun with her style.
Name the most stylish woman (dead or alive).
E.N.: Cleopatra and my great-grandmother Gloria Guiness and Brigitte Bardot in the glorious 60s. Audrey Hepburn has also a very special place in my heart in terms of style.
N.F.: Diana Vreeland and Coco Chanel.
What inspires you the most for your designs?
E.N.: Nature, antique jewellery and science-fiction movies.
N.F.: I’m inspired by sacred geometry, architecture and talismans from different cultures.
Designing jewellery– was it a wish from your childhood days? When did you know that this is exactly what you wanted to do?
E.N.: I have always loved costume and dressing up but the jewellery decision came after collaborating with a childhood friend on her collection.
N.F.: Gemstones have always made me dream and I was drawn to jewellery from a young age. I decided to pursue my passion after taking a gemmology course at the GIA in london. I then went on to do my masters in Jewellery design at Central Saint Martins. I started my company in 2010 in London.
Is the Greek / Libanese-heritage-influence visible in your collections? As part of who you are? If yes, what does it translate to, when it comes to jewellery?
E.N.: Of course, especially Greek Mythology and ancient Greek architecture. I am inspired by the land of Greece and its infinite natural beauty.
N.F.: My heritage is present in my collections in a very subtle way, for example one can find a protective blue stone in the back of a ring.
How important are the components/materials used? What really constitutes luxury, when it comes to exquisite jewellery?
E.N.: Components and materials are very important! Both in terms of ethics of their sourcing and origin, but also in terms of their preciousness and beauty! Exquisite and luxurious pieces are created with exquisite components sourced with a lot of love!
N.F.: I pay great attention to the materials I work with, and choose gemstones according to their energies and properties, as well as for their beauty. I believe that luxury is about craftsmanship and uniqueness.
Which piece are you particularly proud of creating? Is there one you consider to be archetypal for the very essence of your own brand’s DNA?
E.N.: The Lunoor Earrings and pendant. They were created on a very special occasion for Noor’s wedding, and they have turned into an iconic and saught-after piece of my collections which also represents the brand perfectly.
N.F.: I’m proud of the Sri Yantra choker from my latest collection Akasha. It was very challenging to make, as it requires precision and yet seems minimal and simple. And I’d say that it’s our wing earrings, which we recreate every year in different color ways and using different materials that are a great representation of the brand’s DNA. They represent freedom of imagination.
Is there one specific piece that you perhaps were even a little jealous of the designer who created it? (Name the absolute perfect piece of jewellery you ever came across too)
E.N.: My dream piece of jewellery is part of the Diamond find at the Kremlin and it belonged to the Russian Royal Family. It is a parure of necklace and earrings full of coloured stones that recreate a garden full of flowers and bees.
N.F.: There are many jewellery designers I admire, but I would never envy them. There is a pair of bracelets by Baghat, a jeweller from India which are crafted to perfection.
Who is really the woman in your imagination/creation process? What does she look like? How does she think?
E.N.: No particular woman. I really try and design pieces that can be chosen by all types of women, of all types of ages and styles. That is the fun of it!
N.F.: I design for strong women who are creative and express themselves through their style. A woman like Ileana Makri for example or Diane Von Furstenburg.
What can we expect from you in the future? What will be different?
E.N.: Hopefully many more beautiful creations and collaborations. Let’s see…
N.F.: In the future, I will continue to evolve and develop my collection based around the themes of talismans, protection, healing etc.. Every collection will be different but stay true to the essence of my brand.
Where do you imagine yourself to be ideally in –say- ten years from now, professionally speaking?
E.N.: Still doing what I love and hopefully being successful at it!
N.F.: I would like to expand my business into designing one off pieces and working with rare precious stones… And hopefully open a shop to create a context in which to show my work.
So cheers – to a bubbly New Year and an even more fantastic decade to come! Can’t wait for your next collections and the next Moët bottle to pop up, when we meet again!
[All images shot with Olympus Pen EPL-7.]