In the Wardrobe with Gianna Fakhourie
Gianna Fakhourie is a vivacious woman who wears many glamorous hats. She is a lecturer at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and a fabulous plus-sized model. Enamoured with fashion from a young age, Gianna holds a master’s degree in fashion marketing and management and is the proud owner of the jewellery company, The Original Arm Candy.
We’re taking a trip inside this fashionista’s wardrobe.
What inspired you to start your jewellery line?
So many things. I wanted colour. I wanted to heal my complications from ChikV with gemstones. I wanted to learn patience. I wanted anything I produce to be different.
Was this always something you wanted to do?
No. I always had a love for jewellery and jewellery design, but I always did it for myself.
Who are your clients?
It started as women from about 16-55, who appreciate the details. It has become men, women, and children of all ages who can appreciate a fun brand.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think my style is moody even though I’m not haha! If I feel fab, I dress up. If I’m feeling under the weather, I am super casual. I use trends here and there but not too much. I typically stick to classics with one statement piece somewhere within my ensemble.
Describe your design aesthetic.
Classic with a statement. Kind of like my own style. I use beads and charms. How glam or laid back the bracelets depends on my mood for that day and what the message of the collection is.
What was the process of moving your designs from concept to business? Was it difficult to get exposure and support?
Because I never set out to have a business, the process was pretty easy. People saw my bracelets and wanted to buy them. When I had tripled my initial investment, I decided to start the business and by then, people were already calling me to make bracelets for them. It wasn’t too difficult to get exposure; my market already knew me from all the many hats I wear. I got more support than expected through word of mouth. People loved the packaging. And I took part in some important markets and trade shows that made people understand I was serious. People support you when you take yourself seriously. It makes them take you seriously too.
Tell me about your creative process, where do you draw your inspiration from? When are you at your most creative?
I am inspired by Jamaica. The paradise it is, the paradise it was, and the paradise we all know it can be. I use wood and turquoise as my signature bracelet because of the nod to wood and water. But I have many designs that pay homage to the fashionista who has to wear something different every time she is seen. There are so many of those in Jamaica at every level of society. So Jamaica and her people, environment and vibes, those serve as my greatest inspiration.
Who are your style icons?
I would probably say Elizabeth Taylor. She could do no wrong. She was the original ‘fab at any size’ type of woman. She loved baubles, like me. I’m a sucker for Marilyn Monroe as well. She was an early unapologetic curvy icon. I think Davina Bennet is absolutely stunning every time I see her. I don’t know who dresses her, but her style is such a throwback to when people dressed well for every occasion. Dexter Pottinger oozed style. May he rest in peace, he knew every risk to take and pulled it off like the star that he was. Yhordy Akwanza gives me a daily style fix on her Instagram page. She makes me hopeful about fashion on a local level.
When was your favourite style era?
Old Hollywood for sure, the 40 year span between 1920s and the 1960s. I can’t choose only one. I feel like so much took place during that time. It was all exaggerated and identifiable. There’s no mixing it up with anything else. I used it as the dress code for my wedding, that’s how much I love it.
What’s your favourite accessory?
Bags are my thing! I know I should say bracelets or even jewellery; I consider them an automatic part of an outfit, so the only real accessory is a bag and that’s great because I’ve been a bag lady since before I had anything to put in them! My handbags had Cheese Trix, crayons and colouring books inside. And no, you could not carry my handbag, I carried my handbag. And I hated if I got small handbags.
One Christmas when I was very young, my Auntie June gave me a beautiful small handbag, but I went to her and asked her what I was supposed to put in it because it was so small. She told me that she puts her lipstick and her money in hers when she is going out. It was great because I had some Lip Smacker lip gloss at the time and I just walked around to all the adults at home and asked for some money to put in my handbag. So I got a great handbag and I got rich all in one day!