It is hard for me to believe that it was a year ago that I last traveled outside of the US. My family took a trip to Cartagena, Colombia for New Years (which I highly recommend) and then I went on to meet designers in the capital city of Bogotá. It was during these days in January 2020 that I was introduced to the amazing, Aysha Bilgrami. My friend and slow luxury guru, Angelina Guerrero, took me to Aysha’s atelier during a day of visiting some of the best creatives in the city. Aysha had an infant at home, had not had much sleep, and her showroom was full of private shoppers, and yet she was generous with me and took her time to explain her influences and design philosophy while showing me her distinctive line of jewelry.
I was immediately impressed with Aysha’s unique style. At this point in my trip, I had been exposed to the abundance of beauty that existed in Colombia. I was so excited to meet the makers that are using the wealth of raw materials and the influence of the Colombian spirit to create fashion. Aysha is the daughter of a Colombian mother and a Pakistani father. She explains, “I try to incarnate the joyful encounter between these two very rich, yet very different cultures. Pakilombian is the term I coined to talk about my tradition and origins; a term that today signifies the myriad possibilities of bringing traditions together.” When describing her work, she talked about these cultural influences, but also how she seeks to find common ground between diverse cultures and connects them through her jewelry design. She says, “There is always a foreign and local cultural inspiration, especially with a hint of something Colombian or Pakistani in the mix.” Her newest collection she describes as Tribal-Contemporary.
In addition to her thoughtfulness towards beautiful design, she cares deeply about creating jewelry that is wearable and sustainable. She primarily works with silver that is recycled from X-rays. I had never heard of this option and was completely impressed by the quality of the silver. She describes using this material, “…as the result of a process that upholds, in every stage, our values of sustainability, teamwork, respect, quality and truthfulness.” Bilgrami shared that, silver being her main material can also be a challenging one in terms of weight. She designs with the idea that the pieces, especially earrings, should be lightweight.
“I want our ladies to wear our pieces at home, to work, to dance and feel completely comfortable.”
She says, “I want our ladies to wear our pieces at home, to work, to dance and feel completely comfortable.” This can often mean that the creation of samples can take several attempts to achieve the best balance of weight and design. Her use of exotic stones is masterful, as well. She says, “Regarding stones, they speak to me before the creation of the design. Sometimes they are a solution to stiffness, like when one adds spice to a dish.”