When it comes to sartorially shouting out our region and the wider culture, Bella Hadid has been on a roll lately. On Oct. 25, the Palestinian-American supermodel expressed her love for Palestine, after visiting an exhibition on Palestinian embroidery in Doha, Qatar, wearing a foulard boasting the traditional keffiyeh print, a nod to her father’s, property developer Mohamed Hadid, ancestral land. More recently, the 25-year-old shared a series of photographs on her Instagram this week shot by Yasmine Diba, also in Doha, that showed her wearing a printed dress and matching headscarf paired with traditional silver bracelets, cuffs, and earrings from the Kabyle region in Algeria.
The handmade jewelry is well known in North Africa for its bright colors and application of enamel, amber beads, semi-precious stones like lapis, and coral harvested from the Mediterranean by skilled metalworkers. Traditionally handcrafted out of silver, which was valued due to its resemblance to the color white and associated with purity and piety, the jewelry’s significance was different than in the West as it was not a solely seen as decoration for the Amazigh women, but as a means of savings for emergency situations. That’s why silver coins were often used to adorn baubles, because if necessary, they could be broken off and sold to provide for and sustain family.
Enduring centuries of geopolitical conquests and colonization, it stands today as a striking cultural symbol of the North African natives. A true piece of art, traditional Amazigh jewelry has an ability to captivate almost anyone instantly. Late French designer Yves Saint Laurent, who was born in Oran and had a residence in Marrakesh, was known to incorporate Amazigh jewelry into his collections. More recently, Gucci sent out models wearing Amazigh-inspired headpieces at its Cruise 2019 collection. Now, it seems that the pieces of wearable history are making their way off the runways and into the Instagram feeds of trend-setting supermodels, suggesting that the best kind of jewelry is the one loaded with culture.