San Francisco-based jewelry designer and breakout artist Deema Hefzi may be a fresh arts graduate with recent debut exposure at the Academy of Art University’s Spring ‘16 show, but she is already laying down the foundation stones for a jewelry empire. “My goal is to create wearable works of art that get passed on from [one] generation to the next,” Hefzi tells Vogue Arabia. The fashion desk explores the instinctive approach of this emerging Saudi designer, commissioned by the likes of HH Prince Fahad Al Saud and Rotana Tarabzouni.
What’s the most exciting client collaboration you’ve worked on?
I’m currently designing a piece for Alicia Keys and feel very honored and excited to create and design something for her. HH Fahad Al Saud is also an exciting client I’ve worked with;I truly enjoy his adventurous fashion statements as much as I admire his sense of purpose and entrepreneurship. Rotana Tarabzouni was a wonderful artist to work with as well. I loved the empowerment message she was sending; it complemented the strong pieces I designed for her.
What inspirations do you draw upon from your heritage?
My designs are always drawn from my Arab heritage, whether it’s [actual pieces of clothing] or what they stand for.
What aspects of Arab culture are you most proud of?
Generosity and strong family ties.
Which Arab women epitomize style and substance?
My mother. She’s the best dressed woman I know and a trailblazer in every sense. She’s so strong, an extraordinary role model for Saudi women, and women in general. Also, I love how Sheikha Mozah stylishly wears her head turban and how it epitomizes tradition with modesty and style.
Which precious stone do you find the most striking to work with?
I enjoy working with crystals; there’s something so surreal about watching the light refract through them, and their healing qualities are only a plus.
You’ve described yourself as a fine art jewelry designer. Can you describe your unique process, from idea to commission and completion?
First, I collect all my inspiration images through my daily life encounters, like engaging with powerful women, fashion, crystal healing, fine art, marine biology, protection gear, interior design, and art history. These are the most visited categories that my inspiration come from. I start to sketch around 20-30 rough designs, narrowing it to three or four. Then I ask my clients which ones they prefer and why. From there, I start working on bringing the pieces to life myself, which takes roughly one or two months from start to finish.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
My biggest challenge is people’s expectations about me. [They] want me to fit into typical conventional designs and tell me that it’s more profitable. They could be right, but now my focus is pushing the boundaries and exploring the possibilities.
What’s the last jewelry piece you completed?
The last piece was for @YoloFahad. It’s a headpiece inspired by our traditional Agal Gasab, using only non-conventional materials like horsehair, leather, and brass.
How do you power through a creative block?
I always have those creative blocks, but remind myself that it’s where the growth takes place. So, I leave it alone for a day or two and come back to it with greater perspectives and intuition.
In ten years’ time, what do you hope to have on your fashion CV?
I would love to design and create sculptures that turn into landmarks in roundabouts or airports for my country Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, and the Middle East. I want to ban blood diamonds entirely. And I also want to be friends with my imaginary besties: Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, and Emily Weiss.
Vogue Arabia is…
A critical bridge that brings out the hidden gems in fashion and the arts from our part of the world to global fashion readers. It’s also timely, as we are swamped with negative media about the Middle East and the Arab world. This is like a breath of fresh air that communicates what the rest of the world hasn’t seen yet.