Husam El Odeh’s culturally astute jewellery has adorned the collections of Supriya Lele, Per Götesson and others
- Who is it? London-based jeweller, Husam El Odeh
- Why do I want it? Working alongside London’s most exciting designers, Odeh’s jewellery balances heritage and modernity
- Where can I buy it? At Machine-A
Who is it? The expression behind Husam El Odeh’s jewellery design is one of modern traditionalism; history and individual identity combine in every piece Odeh constructs and creates. Part of Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East family, the German-born, London-based designer found an interest for the medium almost by accident, when he was chosen to be part of a fashion week line-up while studying Fine Art at Middlesex University in 2005.
“Some may say being all over the shop is a negative but for me, it’s always been a positive,” Odeh says. “Being versatile feeds into being collaborative, which is an opportunity to explore different strands in my work. I enjoy feeding off and into collections.” Most recently, this saw Odeh collaborate with emerging designer Supriya Lele at her Spring/Summer 2019 show this September. Both Odeh and Lele described the process as natural; Odeh simply understood Lele’s research and concept around silhouettes, “exactly how and why the jewellery connects to the garments so well,” she says.
But the connection between Odeh and Lele is also born out of shared migratory backgrounds, cultures that are known to be “exotic” or “frilly”, as Odeh explains. He takes the earrings he created for Lele’s show as an example. Inspired by Indian jewellery, wherein hairpieces are also connected to the nose and ears, Odeh played with those traditional elements to make pieces that were entirely new. “It’s playing around with the decorative and the functionality,” he says.
Why do I want it? The body has always been Odeh’s biggest muse – and growing up, as he did, with a father who worked in medicine and three brothers who also ended up on that path, it’s little wonder. “With the ear cuffs, before they even became a thing, I was looking at it as an engineering brief, and asking myself: ‘Can I make a piece that’s for most people but doesn’t fall out, similar to hearing aids?’”
Unlike medicine, though, Odeh explains that jewellery has no practical use. “All its use is meaning. It’s very similar to fine art in that way,” he says. The value, then, comes from making work which directly touches the body, and interacts with the wearer on a daily basis. It makes his jewellery – which can span seashells dotted with diamonds, a bracelet with a Coca Cola bottle cap embedded within it or a golden crown of candles – innately intimate.
Of that crown, designed for partner and designer Per Götesson who previously showed with Fashion East, Odeh explains it emerged from Götesson’s home country of Sweden. “Some poor girl was probably sacrificed for the gods before the candle crown became a formalised Christmas tradition,” he says. “But it’s the blend of modern masculinity and womenswear and transforming the format of a local tradition when placed on a boy.”
All of which demonstrates how Odeh recontextualises heritage for a new generation of creatives. “The collection was all about how Per took something from a small place to a big place and how we hang onto things when we move,” Odeh explains. “The story of so many of us who come to the big city.”
Where can I find it? At Machine-A.