Dalia Daou interviewed on meeting The Queen at London Fashion Week for US magazine National Jeweller.
When the young designers who comprise Rock Vault—the British fine jewelry incubator created by the British Fashion Council and Stephen Webster—recently showed their collections at London Fashion Week, they had no idea they would be hosting a very prestigious guest.
Last month at London Fashion Week’s Designer Showrooms, located at 180 The Strand, the Rock Vault designers were presenting their collections to buyers and press when they were suddenly told to tidy up their booths and prepare their most special pieces in advance of a VIP’s arrival. As security entered the building, the designers tried to guess who the mystery visitor could be.
An hour later the VIP arrived; it was Queen Elizabeth II.
“When the queen walked in, we all couldn’t believe it,” said Dalia Daou, the creative director of Daou Jewellery. “We found out later that Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, had been planning Her Majesty The Queen’s visit to London Fashion Week and the Designer Showrooms with Angela Kelly, the queen’s wardrobe mistress, for a year in advance. Afterwards, members of the BFC team were saying, ‘we knew but we couldn’t tell you!’”
Rush introduced the queen to many of the brands presenting their fall/winter 2018 collections in the Designer Showrooms, including the Rock Vault jewelers.
Among them was design duo Shimell + Madden.
“I spoke to the queen about the craftsmanship involved in each our pieces, and explained that we create everything from start to finish in our London studio,” Emma Madden said of their conversation. “I also talked about the gemstones we have used in our latest collection: aquamarine, heliodor, citrine and pearls. She commented on the ‘nice and delicate gemstone setting.’”
Daou and the queen spoke about the former’s royal jewelry connection–Daou’s father was at one time the royal jeweler to the King of Jordan.
“I was pleased to tell her majesty the story of how the queen actually has in her collection a suite of jewelry created by my father by royal appointment, which was gifted to her majesty by His Majesty The King of Jordan on his state visit in 1966.”
Both designers agreed that the queen showed an enthusiasm to learn about their stories and creations.
“The queen was generous with her time,” Madden said, “and was particularly interested in knowing more about us and our work.”
Daou recalled, “The queen commented, ‘how lovely!’ about my Sunset Sunrise cocktail ring and leaned in to look closer, especially as she loves color. She was also surprised by my story about my father’s jewelry, remarking, ‘Oh really!’”
Daou elaborated, “I was so impressed by how the queen took time to speak to every designer, taking a focused interest and commenting on the distinct features of each of our work.”
Afterward, Queen Elizabeth continued to surprise the Fashion Week crowd as she attended the Richard Quinn runway show, also held in the Designer Showrooms on the floor below Rock Vault. There she presented the ready-to-wear designer with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.