Lebanese accessories designer Elsa O talks us through the inspiration she gets from her grandmother’s jewellery box, being a businesswoman, and the story behind her latest collection.
Beirut born jewellery designer Elsa O creates unique playful designs inspired by the glamour of the 1950’s and the charm of nature.
Elsa has a bright and bold personality which is reflected in her colourful designs that feature quirky shapes and characters, made with bright and colourful Swarovski stones. The Lebanese designer came from a family of creatives; her brother the founder of couture brand Azzi & Osta, while her mother, Gisèle Aouad, is a renowned Lebanese actress. Growing up, Elsa was inspired by the heirlooms she found in her grandmother’s jewellery box. She developed a love for brooches and that is what was the basis for her initial designs.
Launched only in 2017, the brand is still in its infancy, but has already proved to be hugely popular across the region. Back with her second collection; Ya Leil Ya Ein, the designer looked to the Arabic book of the same name for her inspiration. The book represented powerful women in the twenties and sixties in Cairo and Beirut, through the eyes of mystical illustrations and graphics. It was bold, artistic and eye-catching – much like Elsa’s collection. Ya Leil Ya Ein comprises of decorative earrings, bold bracelets, and striking brooches that can be worn in more than one way.
The pieces have a distinct vintage feel to them and are attention-grabbing pieces designed to take any look to the next level.
What do you love about creating jewellery?
I’ve always been fascinated by the texture, colour and style they add to our everyday outfits. Accessories and how they’re styled, tell a lot about a person.
What’s the inspiration behind Elsa O?
My love for brooches, statement jewelry, colors & pineapples. I’m a vintage/retro lover. Old eras inspire me, especially the 50s & 60s. The Pineapple brooch, the first item I designed, expressed my love for brooches. They are called pins these days, I personally I think they are the only multi-style item when it comes to accessories. I really enjoy designing them and imagining how they will be mixed and matched!
Tell us about the Ya Lail Ya Ain collection.
This collection was inspired by a book called Ya Leil Ya Ein, that I got to discover while drawing the collection. I got attached and inspired by this book so fast because it took me back to an era I never knew, but always imagined. The music they talk about, the strong artistic Arab women and most importantly the colored sketches added flavour and the sparkle needed for the collection.
What do you think is the core identity of the brand?
Colours and stones, I love to play and have fun while designing my pieces.
How do you choose the stones for your pieces?
The choice of the stones always follows the colors of my design; I like to use it in a way to contrast my pieces.
Where does the manufacturing of your designs take place?
I’m so proud to be producing all my designs in Beirut.
Who is your favourite jewellery designer?
I can never have a favorite designer, each designer inspires me in a different way. Lately I have a crush for Gucci’s accessories, I like the fun aspect of Nadine Ghosn & Alison Lou’s brand, Les Nereides is also a very inspiring brand.
Who is the woman that wears Elsa O?
My lady is a very unique one that likes to add statement touches to her style.
What do you think about social media as a marketing tool?
Online platforms help us a lot to communicate our brands, but it’s hard to protect our designs and our image. Social media made things happen too fast.
What’s your favourite stone?
Amethyst, I’ve always been obsessed with purple!
To what extent does your home country of Lebanon inspire you?
As much as I like to travel to get inspired, I always find when designing and drawing, my collections, that I come back to be inspired by the place I’ve grown up and love the most; Lebanon. It all started here.
What is your life motto?
Baby keep smiling!
What is the one item every woman should have in her jewellery box?
I might sound classic but a vintage necklace & pearl earrings. These two items can be worn in so many ways at any age!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
We learn from failure not from success. I’m a curious and adventurous person, I want to keep learning and discovering every single day.
And the most important lesson you have learned in life?
Believe in what you love, love what you believe in!
What for you was the defining point in your career?
The day I decided to start Elsa O – May 2017, I’ve always imagined myself an accessories designer.
What advice do you give to women who want to launch their own brand?
Doing what you love with a lot of passion and fun, is the best career choice you can ever make because it will keep you smiling and shining and it’s the most beautiful and elegant accessory a woman can wear.
What is the future for Elsa O?
A new collection that will be launched this Fall/Winter season. All I can say it’s a mix between Exotic & Ya Leil Ya Ein, might sound crazy but you know as long as I’m doing what I love the touch of fun is a must!
Available at www.elsao.shop