With statement jewels at the heart of every major fashion look, Emirates Woman finds out more about the woman behind beautiful Arabian-inspired collection, Shourouk.
With a company tagline like ‘luxury and decadence’ you’ll find nothing less from Shourouk Rhaiem’s mouth-wateringly bright, wow-factor jewels, which have garnered a varied range of celebrity fans from Lady Gaga to Michelle Obama. The Tunisian designer reveals her secrets to success…
Shourouk, the brand, was born in 2008. How did it come about?
I’ve always been fascinated by jewellery and crystals. As a child, I loved playing with my grandmother’s diamond bracelets but it was after working at Chloé, Galliano and Roberto Cavalli that I developed my true desire to work with luxury accessories. In 2008 I met my business partner, Pierre Lasquier, who invested in my vision. I’ve been making my own exciting pieces ever since.
What inspires you?
I was born in Paris and have always admired the classicism of the city mixed with the melting pot of cultures you find in each district. As a true Parisian I’ve always been attracted by haute joaillerie and I like to twist these inspirations to create luxurious and funky statement pieces. I also travel a lot, which offers up so much. India, in particular, remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration with its kitsch culture and rich history. From the maharaja palaces to the shanty towns, I love how loud, chaotic and colourful it is.
How does your Arabian heritage inspire you?
My Tunisian roots have influenced the way I think and how I create my designs. I grew up in a feminine world, surrounded by women who loved to wear razzle-dazzle accessories and beautiful outfits for special occasions. This is reflected in my chunky necklaces and shiny designs, along with precious and elegant embroideries taken from traditional Tunisian garments.
Tell us about your S/S13 collection…
This season I used the eccentricity of African kings combined with the glamorous glitter of the Hollywood golden age. As a tribute to African craft, I wove crystal stones into fluro ropes to create easy-to-wear pieces. The collection also celebrates screen icon Elizabeth Taylor, echoing the magnificent jewels she wore but with my own unique twist – the earrings are bigger, the necklaces are like flowing rivers of diamonds and the colours are brighter and stronger.
We love your bejewelled range. What materials do you favour?
Swarovski crystals are the main components of my designs and probably my favourite. I like to mix metallic sequins with noble fabrics like silk and satin. I also love to use alternatives to precious materials, like neon climbing rope, PVC and authentic African wax fabric.
Describe your personal style in one sentence
A mix and match look that combines vintage and designer pieces, finished with a touch of bling-bling and red lipstick.
Who’s your style icon?
At the moment it’s Iris Apfel. I recently met her in Vienna and fell in love with her style. She has this Woody Allen vibe about her – a great sense of humour, a lot of irony and self-derision. She told me: ‘People have to get out of the box and have fun.’
What do you think of the style of the women in the Middle East?
I like it! Women in France are admittedly elegant but they aren’t daring with colours and style. I find it a bit unfortunate. Women in the Middle East are brave, they play with their femininity, and this pleases me.
Describe the Shourouk woman
It’s not about her age, it’s more about her attitude and her spirit. She’s somebody who wants to wear original designs without feeling like it’s fancy dress. She’s not afraid of bright colours and bling. The Shourouk client ranges from the elegant and classic lady like Michelle Obama to the completely eccentric like Anna Dello Russo.
Lastly, what should we wear with our jewels?
Everything is possible. Just make sure to have fun and take risks. There are no rules, jewellery gives you the opportunity to try so many things. It can add a twist or that needed final touch.
Shourouk is available on shourouk.com, sophiecloset.com and at Boutique 1