Glamouria

Award Winner Jewelry Designer Jihan Alama in an Exclusive Interview with Glamouria
March 30, 2015
Jihan Alama
Entrpreneur, Mother & Wife
All In style

Hair: Tony Sawaya
Make Up: Ahmad Al Assir
 
How We Met…..
 
I always wanted to meet her properly, although I have seen her many times through the years. The first time was many years ago at my hairdresser Tony Sawaya, while I was still living in Italy. I remember thinking she’s gorgeous and asking who she were.
I also saw her quickly in Miami, and few times at my daughters’ school. Her style is always impeccable!

At Maison Djihan in Beirut, every detail counts!
#inlove with these tea cups

 

 
She is the very talented jewelry designer and founder of the jewelry house Maison Djihan that specializes in modern, elegant and youthful designs. Today we meet in her studio, as stylish as she is, decorated with all little pretty things, and a lot of chocolate!
For those who don’t know, Jihan is also the wife of Lebanese superstar Ragheb Alama, one of the most adored celebrities in the Arab world. 
 
She’s wearing jeans, a simple white shirt, a pair of boots, and a “gilet” with fur that she designed and made herself!
 
Jiahan Alama, not you typical celebrity wife
Active entrepreneur, Creative artist
Jihan @Work!



Jihan Alama, The Jewelry Designer

How did you grow up as a little girl, did you always love fashion?
Yes, you can check my pictures! I loved fashion, and I was very daring. I was very different, I didn’t wear regular skirts, I preferred tulle skirts, with “jupons” and hats.. Or very short shorts.. As we say in lebanon, I liked the “zantara” all my life…

Jihan with her 2 sons, Khaled & Louai Alama


Jihan Alama when she was her sons’ age!
She always liked fashion and chose to be unique
with short shorts, tulle skirts, hats and jupons

 

 
How did you start with jewelry?
Jewelry is related to fashion, it’s a part that compliments it.  When I decided I wanted to start a career, I don’t know how, but I found myself drawing jewelry. To be honest, Ragheb was encouraging me a lot. He told me that he liked the working woman, but for me it was kind of hard, what job was I going to get? I have a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design, and I studied Interior Design for a year… 


Bonbon, Hand of Fatima,, Zalia…
Many material mixed together creating unique collections
Shop Djihan Jewelry Online
So you knew how to draw?
I do oil painting… but creation for me is much more important than drawing. I love creating, not drawing. and this is how I succeeded. Remember The Cube, my first collection, it was a big hit!  At the time it was very creative and different. I threw it on the model in the videoclip thinking that no one will notice it, but the feedback was scary! I started getting a lot of proposals, but I wasn’t ready yet. I had a small line, and I promoted it in the videoclip without mentioning that I designed it. I did so because I wanted real feedback. I did not want to catch the attention as “Jihan, Ragheb’s wife” designed it. 

People were asking where they could find this necklace, and started looking for it. These are real stories. A Saudi princess’ assistant kept looking for the piece everywhere, in Paris and Italy, and could not find it, until her assistant saw my picture holding the cube in my hand on a cover of Fairuz magazine, so they told him I designed it. It was so cute!



18krt Yellow Gold Bracalet with Zalia Ball.




Then I started studying more about jewelry; I took courses about different techniques and stones. I learnt the basics. I am successful because I am creative. My creations are very different. The Cube collection was the first 3D collection, and we were not sure if it would be successful because of the 3D dimensions.

Jihan in Paris, Winning “The Best Jewelry Designer Award”
 
How are your creations similar to you?
Being unique, honestly. I always try to find something that does not exist yet.  I like to be different. You will not see me wearing the trending bag or the trending boots or jacket… I won’t. I don’t like it. This is what I wish women would understand. What do you feel when you invest in a jewelry item that everyone else around you is wearing? Your family, your friends, and all of you, are sitting at the same table wearing the same thing. Each woman should start her own trend, in the simple way she styles herself. 
 
“Unlock My Heart”, you lock your heart when you’re in a bad mood, and you unlock it when you’re happy. The symbol is charming, sexy, mysterious.. Too many stories to tell… I love to see it in women. From the lock, I created a heart.

This piece is connected with the woman’s emotional status on a daily basis. Today she’s in love, tomorrow she’s mad at her partner, husband or boyfriend… So it really tells her mood. 

Unlock My Heart by Djihan

 

What material do you like to use in your creations?
Believe it or not, I love gold. Diamonds make any piece attractive, but you fall in love with gold. Diamonds were kept for special occasions, but I tried to change that idea. I created pieces with diamonds that you could wear easily; practical jewelry that you could wear anytime, even if it’s a stone, 1 or 7 carats, I like to create it in a simple design that you could wear and enjoy. It’s a shame that we keep our most precious jewelry in a safe. I invite every woman to go through all her jewelry box, and if there are things that she’s not always wearing or things that she doesn’t really like, then put them together, melt them and create something you will love. You will feel so happy, and you already have the material.
 
Any symbol that you like that’s always present in your designs?
I love our flower logo. I created it with four petals, counting my kids and my husband. One for Khaled, one for Louai, one for Ragheb and one for myself. I wanted a symbol with a meaning, I like it and I like to see it everywhere. So it’s either stamped on my jewelry or dangling somewhere.

Perseverance and perseverance..
What helped you as a woman? 
Perseverance and perseverance….
 
Were you disappointed at any point in your career?
No, not really, thanks God. Not because it’s all 100% perfect.. but my biggest disappointment comes from not being able to do a lot in my own country. This is what pains me the most.  Let’s say I am asked to make events, for example, so I organize the first one, and then what? It’s hard in Lebanon, economically, psychologically..

At Maison Djihan in Beirut

 

 
How can you be creative in this atmosphere?
Look at my studio… My workplace is very important. I feel very creative in my own studio. It has to be very calm, and I like everyone here to be happy… I am very passionate about all the little details. So yes, I do go outside of my country because I have to exist. I rely on exhibitions, private shows, big events reaching celebrities and high members of the society.

Katy Perry wearing Djihan skull earrings at The Grammy Awards

 

Miranda Lambert singer wearing bonbon
earrings from Djihan at the Grammy Awards

 

Who would you like to see wearing Djihan creations?
We reached a lot of celebrities, and we’re doing great. But it’s Angelina Jolie. She’s the classiest woman. She established herself worldwide. She is so beautiful and charming, very confident. Jewelry “talks” when she wears it.
 

Have you ever tried to reach her?
Honestly, yes. I noticed that she likes pearls, so I sent her a very simple ring with one pearl. I met her in Cannes at the hotel lobby. It was very crowded. I saw Robert De Niro first, then Angelina. She sparkles, really. We did not talk, but something funny happened… She looked at me and turned back, then she looked again.. So I was laughing..
 
Maybe because you look alike, a lot?!
I don’t know….. I was just looking at her… 
 
Jihan Alama in Cannes, France

A lot of celebrities wore my design, at the Grammy Awards, at the Oscars in Hollywood, when George Clooney won the oscar. His movie Director became my friend, and she was wearing my designs, and Clooney complimented her. He was still with Stacy at the time. Katy Perry wore my designs on stage and sent me a private note, also Miranda Lambert wore my Bonbon collection. We reached a lot of International media in Cannes, LA and Hollywood. It’s very important to reach celebrities, as they are a symbol of fashion nowadays.

What are your dreams?
I won a prize in Paris last year at an annual event that recognizes most successful people in their field. You get exposed to the highest level of society; it was one of a kind event.

Her Creations are so unique and playful
Very creative
Shop Djihan Jewelry Online





As a jewelry designer, I reached more than what I thought I expected. But it seems the harder you work, the more you could do.

 
What are your goals now?
I always have the dream of doing something in Lebanon, but now it’s in a “freeze” mode. So I am concentrating on the market outside of Lebanon. Djihan Jewelry will now be available in 3 new spots at 3 hotels in the Rivoli stores in Dubai. Hopefully we will add more. We are also present at Atlantis. We are present at Harvey Nichols in Kuwait, and on board of long flights in MEA where you could find my second line. And we have our showroom in Beirut. Hopefully there will be more to come, and this is the plan. Be available in more places. 
 
 
I see you’re wearing hoops…
I love hoops, a lot! Hoops give charm to women. The bigger it is, the more I like it. 
 
Jihan Alama & Social Media: @jihanalama
 
You’re active on social media, how do you like it?
I have my instagram, a personal one and the jewelry house one @djihanjewelry. I have my facebook. All what you see on them is what you would see in magazines, but now people would rather go on their phones than go buy a magazine.
Social Media is both positive and negative. Positive if you have a message for people, but if not, there is no need to post things. Unless you like exposure and fame… But fame is not very positive, because then you loose your privacy. Plus, personal issues attract people. That’s a fact!
Ragheb is against instagram you know… He’s more active on twitter, he loves to be involved.. and he doesn’t like me to use social media a lot. As a result, my account now is private….  Instagram is amazing, it’s a lot of fun.
 
Jihan Alama with her Family



Being Ragheb’s wife, did it help you or was it an obstacle?

If you have a brand, and you’re a star’s wife, you will reach people faster, and you will get a lot of media exposure, but then what? It helped for a short period, but then you have to be very active and work hard. You have to make people believe in you.
 
What was the hardest obstacle for you?
To be always present! 
 
You design for men, how can you understand what they want?
Women tend to love trendy pieces, or what their friends have (and I wish they would stop).. And they want more beautiful and more expensive. As for men, this is all irrelevant. Men are simple, so I go very simple and very minimal. This is what they like. Only a few men like to attract the attention. They don’t like what’s obviously very expensive. They see jewelry in a different manner. A lot of friends & clients complain that their husbands get them jewelry that they don’t like, so they go and change it. But this is wrong. When a man gets you jewelry, he wants to see it on you. Wear it, don’t change it, because if you do that, he will stop getting you jewelry. So just wear it.
 
 
What are the Must Have pieces of jewelry?
Let’s not talk about watches and stay in jewelry. If it’s a married woman, then of course she needs the wedding band and her solitaire. 
 
Can she change her wedding band?
No, she shouldn’t. She could slightly remodel it and refresh it, but only slightly. But she could absolutely change her solitaire.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…

 

 
I would say, the Must have for all are the hoops! It looks good on every woman. A woman with a long neck could use big hoops, if not, she could choose a smaller ones. I also like a little necklace with a stone, but to layer it with other items. 
 
But do you notice we used to change our jewelry daily, women don’t do that anymore..
Very true, and I took that into consideration. I created an elastic collection that’s very easy to wear and remove, and you could keep day and night. They come in different sizes, so you could mix and match, choose one or many! Practicality is very important. Even the rings, if the design is not very classical, I keep it open.

 
Lady in Red
Wearing Her Own Creations





What trends are we seeing in rings?

We’re seeing tiny rings, that you could wear together the way you want.
 
Can we mix metals?
Yes you can, but be careful when you mix. I like white gold with rose, it looks good together. In my designs, I always include tiny details in case my customer likes mixing metals. And I love rose gold!
 
Style, Jihan Alama Was Born with it. And it Shows!
 
Tell us a little bit about your Style. What do you wear every day?
Some people prepare their clothes the day before, but I don’t. Lately, I take a picture of what I am wearing and I put it in a file. It makes it much easier when you pack to travel. So when you like an outfit, snap a picture and keep it for future inspirations. 
 
I don’t think about what I want to wear. It’s important to mix & match, and you need to be a little daring, but not too daring. I don’t like “window style”, you go buy what’s in the window and wear it the way it is just to be called a fashionista. This is not fashion. You have to add to it, and if it does not suit your body, don’t wear it. You also have to take into consideration where you work. If you work at a formal corporate office, you can’t be a “fashionista”… You have to wear the appropriate style and make it stylish with little details or accessories. There are lots of women like that, and sometimes I really like to tell them, but then I can’t.
I love brands, I mix a lot. Sometimes I create my own pieces. I buy raw material and I create it. 

“When your husband buys you jewelry, you should wear it,
not return it….
” Jihan Alama


Will we ever get to see you as a fashion designer?
This requires a lot of work.. I don’t know! There is something we’re working on, but it’s accessories, not clothing.

More details?
I designed a full bag collection that is exclusively to Africa, not for the Middle East yet. The project is done. It includes daytime, evening, clutches and beach bags.
 
Why Africa?
I have a potential in that market, and they already set an order for 10 countries. So we’re in the production phase. I want to introduce more fashion to Africa.
 
What about the bags you carry?
I like to change bags a lot… A small one, a big one, a tiny cross body. I don’t like to stick to one style. My bags don’t have to be all expensive. Our mentality is that we have to wear Chanel, oh why she’s not wearing her Chanel today?
Even when I buy at céline or Chanel or LV, it’s not because it was the most expensive ones, it’s because I liked them. 

 
 
How do you get ready for a big event?
You have to be ready few days in advance, you can’t take risks. Try what you think you will wear with the hairstyle and make up you want, and have a plan B, because you never know what could happen! Even when I travel for an event, I always have more than one option.
 
What do you focus on for events?
I focus more on my face than on the dress. I like my skin to glow and my hair to be natural. I don’t like to look overdone. 

 

 
The other day I was invited to a huge lunch party, with about 90 women. I expected them all to be overdone, so I went very simple with my style. I just wore a brown dress, and I had very light make up on. First I had eyeliner, then I removed it. Trust me you feel different and fresh. You don’t need a make up artist for every occasion.
 
Why do you think they do that?
Because of competition of course. Each woman wants to look better than her friend.
 
“Be Confident”



What advice would you give women?

Be confident. You don’t have to put all your closet on, or all your jewelry, this is not acceptable. Keep it simple. Even if you decide to wear your solitaire, or a big stone, fine, but wear it in a simple way. There must be balance. Put the emphasis on one hand, not both, for example. You have to love what you’re wearing.
 
We always talk about self confidence, but some women are just not born with it. How could they build it?
She could look at 2 pictures: One with a confident woman who will definitely be minimalist, and another woman who is not as confident. She could look at both and decide what she wants to be. You have to know what style you like..
 
What are your tactics to win over the competition (laughing)…
Differentiate yourself! Send vibration that you’re comfortable with yourself so people would feel comfortable talking to you.  And trust me, confidence has nothing to do with a pretty face. Simplicity creates beauty. 
 
I was skiing the other day, some women had big pieces of jewelry. I only had diamond studs, because I like to always have something little. I was shocked! Why do you need all of this? Then my friend showed me a picture of Angelina Jolie. It was at a red carpet event, and she had nothing on but her dress. No earrings, no necklace or bracelet, nothing. I couldn’t see her hands, so she might have had a ring. A simple hairdo and simple makeup. She does not need impress people with her jewelry. This is self confidence.
 
How do you take care of yourself?
I don’t overdo things. I use creams day and night. I focus on hydrating my skin. I don’t always do facials, sometimes I do some at home, maybe once a week, or every 2 weeks, or if I want to put a mask for 15 minutes I would do it. But not on a regular basis. What’s crucial for me is to maintain elasticity. My skin can’t be dry or tired, and this is why I use the right hydrating creams. 
 
Ready for a Night Out
Hair: Tony Sawaya
Make Up: Ahmad Al Assir
 
 
What about your daily make up?
I don’t use foundation, I prefer BB creams that are tinted hydrating creams. It’s the best product I use. If you want to look more done, you could add a light powder on it with a blush, if not, I just add a little blush. I use eyeliner depending on my mood. Sometimes I just want to show my skin glowing. Texture and tint are the best in make up, it’s not the concealer nor the eyeshadow. I also try to avoid concealer. 
Always go light and bright.
 
Do you exercise?
I always exercise. I skip according to my body. I Listen to my body! If I feel weak, I relax.  I could skip a week or 10 days, or even a month if I am traveling.
I like high intensity cardio, body lift, dancing, and yogalatis,
I love yoga, it makes your body very flexible. I change classes a lot, I don’t do the same ones. I do weights with dancing, or weights with yoga… You have to be flexible. Yogalatis focuses on your core, it’s a very nice class.
 
What about your diet?
We have to live on a diet, which is really a lifestyle. You have to understand what works with your body. I went so many times to a dietician, not to loose weight but to learn if I am eating the right things. I had a blood test to see what is good for my body, and apparently, corn is bad for me. So I don’t eat a lot of bread or a lot of carbs. Some food messes with my energy levels. I advise women to visit dietitians, not necessarily to loose weight, but to learn about their body and a healthy lifestyle that they could follow.  
 
What’s your weakness?
I am a sweet person, I love chocolate. I have boxes of chocolate everywhere, by my bed, my desk, everywhere. I go crazy for chocolate. I eat a little bit, in little pieces. If I feel like eating something, I do, but a very tiny portion,. You have to have a great habit of dieting.
 
Your obsession?
I like bags and shoes, but I am obsessed with shoes. I learnt that shoes have to be comfortable. It has to be comfortable and pretty. No way I will wear uncomfortable shoes anymore. There are lots of comfortable brands now.


 



Do you like flats?

I love flats, especially in the summer. I barely wear heels in summer. 
To me sexy shoes are simple and plain, pointy shoes in sheer colours with tanned legs (you can tan them at home and add just a tiny bit of sparkle)…
I love shoes in general, it’s not about a specific brand, but lately I am obsessed with Hogan, I started gifting them to my friends.
 
How do you like to spend your free time?
To be honest, I have no free time. I travel, but when I do, it’s for work, so I try to mix some fun too. 
 
What’s your favourite destination?
Paris is my second home, anytime of the year. I feel very comfortable there. Paris is always the right choice. I also like to visit different places, but I need a boost to go.
 
Where?
I visted Asia, but I feel I want to discover the right places in it.
 
Is your best vacation romantic, a family vacation or all girls vacation?
My priority is always my husband, I prefer to go with my husband. But I also love traveling with my family but when they are on vacation. 


Click here to visit la Maison Djihan Online 

Jihan Alama with her Boys in Atlantis Dubai
Jihan Alama with her Husband Ragheb Alama
and their Two Boys
Kissing The Dolphin
On Vacation in Dubai, Atlantis
 
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