Mawi Keivom on how her tribal heritage has given her an edge as an international accessories designer
Designer Mawi Keivom
A decade after launching her label at the London Fashion Week, Manipur-born accessories designer Mawi Keivom showed her collection at the Lakmé Fashion Week last week, pairing it with designer Gaurav Gupta’s clothes. Her collection, MAWI’s Indian Odyssey, was a retrospective of the iconic pieces created by her in her earlier seasons. A celebration of Keivom’s favourite pieces, the name of this collection was a reference to her homecoming.
Models in braided mohawks glided down the runway in Gupta’s designs with an alien spaceship suspended overhead. Mawi’s stunning ultra-glam pieces added to the otherworldly ambience.
Beyond the ramp, from Rihanna to Priyanka Chopra, her art deco and punk-inspired unique statement pieces can be seen on fashionistas globally. She tells us how travel and her own rebellious streak inspire her designs—and that you might be able to buy MAWI shoes in the future. Edited excerpts from an interview:
How often does India find its way into your designs?
My Indian and tribal heritage is a constant source of inspiration. I respect Indian tradition, craftsmanship and aesthetics. India has such a beautiful, diverse heritage and my work always has an undercurrent of that running through its veins. In the past I have created collections such as Punk Rajah, Gypsy Rani and India Rose, which all took inspiration from my roots.
Where else do you find inspiration for your designs?
I also find many of my ideas come from youth subcultures and industrial design, as well as futuristic, traditional and contemporary references. My work is always about combining these diverse elements. I seek influences from a wide variety of sources, ensuring my designs remain multidimensional, innovative and exciting. I also feel fortunate to have been able to travel and experience many different cultures. Certainly this exposure has contributed to my overall aesthetic.
How has your personal style inspired your jewellery line?
MAWI jewels are definitely a true embodiment of my style. My personal aesthetic encompasses bold statement pieces, industrial and futuristic elements as well as vintage jewels. I have a rebellious streak running through my veins, which translates through my designs.
Do you plan to expand your product line? Shoes or clothes perhaps?
My ultimate aim is to create an aspirational lifestyle brand that offers everything from jewellery, bags, shoes, clothing, perfume, etc. Having set up the foundations for global expansion, the next decade will focus on growing the online business, while also expanding the retail arms and opening more stores. We want to immerse our followers in the MAWI world, we have a vision of developing the MAWI philosophy across the board and we are in this for the long haul.
Which Indian celebrity would you like to see your designs on?
There are many trend-setting celebrities in India who wear MAWI and I’m always delighted to see them wearing our creations. Aishwarya Rai (Bachchan), Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor (Khan) have all been spotted in our jewels. These women add their own individual style to the pieces and I am so excited to see who chooses to wear MAWI next. It’s so rewarding knowing someone has specifically chosen to invest in a piece they absolutely love.
Do you think you will ever create dainty, delicate pieces?
We are known for creating statement jewels, however these pieces often feature delicate components and features that would translate beautifully into more dainty designs. I wear a lot of delicate jewels myself and my jewellery box is full of beloved dainty pieces that have been handed down through my family. I like extremes, and mix and match so many aesthetics that there is always the possibility to design smaller, delicate jewels, particularly when we eventually come to launch a fine jewellery range in the future. It is not on the cards yet but the avenue to create precious MAWI jewellery is always open.