Describing jewelry house MAWI’s eclectic aesthetic is a challenge. A clever melding of vintage and tradition with edgy, contemporary boldness comes close, but one thing’s clear—the passion and individuality of its creator.
Born in Manipur, Northeast India, Mawi Keivam is the daughter of high-achieving parents. Her diplomat father has written over 400 songs and many books, while her mother is a brilliant needlewoman. This heritage, combined with a globetrotting childhood and a love affair with a wide spectrum of art and culture, has clearly influenced her singular approach to design.
After studying fashion design in Auckland, New Zealand, Mawi relocated to New York to work at Isaac Mizrahi. Her accessories débuted at London Fashion Week in 2003, following which the British Fashion Council gave her label, MAWI, the New Generation Award for three seasons. With a flagship boutique in Shoreditch, London, the brand has evolved into two lines, Heirloom and Costume Luxe, observed on high-profilers from Alexa Chung to Samantha Cameron. Now celebrating ten years in business, MAWI is set to launch a Retrospective collection, as well as Sir, a men’s line.
Husband Tim, son of an antiques dealer, is also Keivam’s work partner. “He has a great business brain. I’m liable to blow the entire annual budget on one project, but Tim brings me back to earth. Working with a trusted team also frees her to express her vision. “The head of my design team project-manages everything. She understands the way I work and keeps things ticking over.”
When it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of designing, her methods are characteristically unconventional. “I’m very hands-on, using collage, making models, taping stuff together. Once I have a sample, we turn it into a beautiful image on the computer. It’s a bit back-to-front, but it works!”
For ten years Swarovski has played a pivotal part for MAWI and crystals are factored in at the earliest stage. “Sparkle brings me joy. I think women are naturally drawn to shiny things—it’s us channeling our inner princesses.”
So, can we venture to ask how Mawi Keivam would sum up her brand? “It’s industrial luxe-meets-punk-meets-granny chic.” We couldn’t have put it any better, ourselves!