Follow Vogue Arabia

Princesses Noura, Mashael, and Sara Al Saud on Reshaping Perceptions of Saudi Fashion Through Their Jewelry Brand

From Riyadh to the world stage, Princesses Noura, Mashael, and Sara Al Saud are reshaping perceptions of Saudi fashion through their jewelry brand Apoa.

apoa

Photo: Alex Teuscher

The proverbial saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth” could not be further from the truth for Saudi-based jewelry brand Apoa (A Piece of Art) by Princesses Noura, Mashael, and Sara Al Saud. “We’re three founders, we have three different styles and tastes, but at the same time it’s quite coherent,” says Mashael, the youngest princess, and voted ‘most fashionable’ by her co-founders. “I think what brings us all together is that we have a style that’s adventurous and veers toward fashion more than playing it safe,” Sara and Noura agree.“Most of the time we have to hold ourselves back because we’re not just catering to ourselves,” Noura jokingly adds. There’s no competition between the princesses, just an abundance of admiration, a clear ease and respect, a great sense of value of what each founder brings to the table, and an even larger appreciation for what they’re trying to achieve.

Their vision of Apoa represents the new Saudi. They’re breaking boundaries and perceptions of what the fashion landscape is on a global level. There’s a wonderful debunking of stereotypes. “A lot of people don’t even know about the heritage and the culture that we have. People are just starting to see the beauty in our land, the culture, and everything that we’re able to offer, and Apoa gets to be a part of that narrative. That’s what makes me really proud,” says Sara.

Born in the heart of Riyadh, Apoa draws inspiration from Saudi culture, architecture, and history, infusing these elements with a modern sensibility. “We wanted to have something that wasn’t mainstream, but also represented who we are. Our inspiration for Chapter One was Saudi,” says Mashael. “We took what was closest to our background and worked with our designers to implement that into the designs. Our signature piece in Chapter One, and one of my favorites, Ardh, is an artistic take on the shape and landscape of Saudi,” adds Sara. “Whether it translates into shapes, names of our products, or the use of pearls with which the GCC region has a longstanding relationship with, there is a bit of Saudi imbued.” And while the region plays a big role in the foundation of Apoa, what is important to note is that it is setting a unique and interesting benchmark in fashion jewelry not only in the region, but globally too.

Only having launched in 2023, the founders, along with their team of designers, have launched two collaborations, most recently one with Ashi Studio this year at Paris Couture Fashion Week, and three collections (preferring to call them chapters) with a highly anticipated fourth set to be released this summer. For a region that’s well acquainted with fine jewelry, the choice to venture into the realm of fashion jewelry may seem odd to some, but actually it proves to be a strategic business decision. “I always wanted to start an accessible high fashion accessory brand and discussed it with Sara,” says Noura. “There was such a gap in the market, but neither of us ever had the time because of other projects or companies that kept us busy. Covid presented the perfect opportunity to bring the idea to fruition, and then it was easy, we knew we wanted Mashael to be a part of it.” Noura’s business acumen is sharp, “In the GCC, Saudi, and the Middle East, there are a lot of fine jewelry brands, varying from high to everyday fine jewelry, but there weren’t really any fashion accessory brands. We took into consideration price ranges to be more competitive, while at the same time delivering the exact same quality.”

Working with a team of designers across Barcelona and Riyadh, and manufacturers in Italy, all Apoa designs need to be signed off by its three founders. Blending their styles and working with multicultural teams, Apoa’s designs are bold, organic, whimsical, fresh, and most importantly, fun; and there’s something for everyone. “That’s the benefit of having three people’s input,” shares Mashael, “And that’s a good thing because not everyone has the exact same tastes as I do. In the end it works out really well because we cater to an even larger audience than if it were just one of us.” Earlier this year in Paris, Noura, Sara, and Mashael, had an epiphany. While trying to explore maximalism in a time of quiet luxury, they’re choosing not to alienate the minimalist, taking on a more thoughtful approach to sculptural and architectural pieces. The acronym, Apoa, also stands for the artist, the present, the opportunity, and the always – something that has become a guiding slogan of sorts for the brand and who it creates for. The artist, eccentric and avant-garde; the present, a lover of easy-to-wear pieces; the opportunity, celebrating special occasions; and the always, embodying timeless elegance.

apoa

Photo: Alex Teuscher

Even though multiple personas are catered to, an Apoa signature can be seen across all collections. The realm of fashion jewelry typically demands brands to embrace rapid cycles, constantly introduce novelty, and frequently align with trends, posing challenges in maintaining a distinct signature. For Apoa, four chapters in, there is still a common thread that shows throughout, which is extraordinary for a fashion jewelry brand. Continuing to explore organic form and shape is something that Apoa fans can expect to see more of and will continue to be important to their design code.

“We’ve always been dressing up and buying fashion jewelry accessories from high end brands,” says Noura. As consumers themselves, they also recognize the need for wearability, prioritizing comfort without sacrificing style and detail. Working with electroforming achieves the lightweight aspect to their bold designs. “Electroforming” is a process where you blow up the metal in order to keep the inside quite hollow, which makes the pieces wearable and very light weight. It’s a really interesting process because you can do a variety of different treatments like gold or palladium plating, or enamel,” says Mashael. It allows for organic shapes, raw metal edges, and envelopes gemstones seamlessly.

It also allows for the bold, statement effect that Apoa expresses throughout its designs. Sara adds, “It enables us to play with imperfection, you’ll notice no shape is a hundred percent symmetrical, and the crystals aren’t perfectly placed; this is all very intentional. It allows for a feeling of movement, which is important in jewelry. We also love working with darker crystals, particularly dark gray, so it’s not just your regular Swarovski crystal, it’s very unexpected and breaks the monotony. It really does add depth.” The use of techniques and design choices complement one another, allowing for experimentation while still maintaining a sense of whimsy and edginess that feels very high fashion.

Originally published in the June 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

Makeup: Daniela Valenzi
Muse: Rawan Kattoa 

Read Next: Meet the Sisters Behind Charmaleena Fine Jewelry, a Brand Rooted in Saudi Heritage

Suggestions
Articles
View All
Vogue Collection
Topics