Kai Ayub has had fashion and style in his blood for as long as he can remember, and it sounds as though fashion was meant for him. From an early career in the fashion industry to a series of serendipitous opportunities, Kai has forged a fantastic career in design and styling for himself and has now collaborated with global company Magnolia Silver Jewelry for a very special unique collection entitled A Girl Called Lola.
Kai started his career in fashion when he picked up his first copy of Harper’s BAZAAR at the age of fourteen. “I knew at that age I wanted to do something in fashion.” Harper’s, then titled Mode magazine, was to be his calling and he did a two week internship whilst still at school at the magazine. There, he fell in love with publishing and the fashion world seemed to open up to him. When so young and faced with so many opportunities, Kai said he knew “this was the world I wanted to be in, but what do I do?”
After finishing high school Kai worked with Wayne Cooper in an intern position as a studio assistant. After excelling he was offered a full time position with the company. Such a fantastic opportunity for a new high-school graduate! This was it, Kai then put himself through fashion school at the Whitehouse Institute of Fashion Design while he worked in MYER on a retail sales level, which he partly attributes to his success now. “Working in retail is great because you can see what sells.”
From here on in, Kai had a number of chance meetings, which lead him to his success and career on television. He says he networked to make himself known. “You network the hell out of yourself. You say hello to everyone.”
It was working at MYER and networking that Kai met Annabelle van Tongeren who was a stylist for Australian Idol Season 2. A chance meeting for Kai meant that he spent the last few months of Season 2 Australia Idol dressing the likes of Anthony Calea and Casey Donovan. Another chance meeting meant that he met the then Style Director at Channel 7 while getting his hair done at a salon. “I was always at the right place at the right time.”
Kai recalls the moment that changed his career forever. After a few rushed emails and phone calls whilst working at Channel 7 in the wardrobe department, an Executive Producer offered Kai the dream job. “’Kai, I’m offering you the job and you would be an idiot not to take it. I want you to be the Fashion Editor of The Morning Show. These are the segments I’ve created for you,’ and that was how I was propelled,” says Kai.
From there on in, Kai says he was then to become known for “budget fashion and red carpet looks,” paving a pathway to success by telling greater Australia how to “get the look for less.”
Getting the look for less meant creating a collection inspired by Gossip Girl for powerhouse retailer Big W. The success of this collection meant being sold off and Kai due to contractual obligations being put into an embargo where he was unable to design for anyone else for twelve months.
Again, seemingly serendipitously, a few weeks after his embargo ended, a chance tweet from Magnolia Silver Jewelry started the process to his very own collection with this worldwide brand.
Magnolia, having launched in 1996 and with over 150 stores thriving all over the world, meant a fantastic opportunity for the two to collaborate. Within twenty minutes of meeting, Kai had been confirmed to design.
Working over a four-month period over the beginning of 2012, Kai recalls positive memories of the process even with language barriers. “All of the production is done in Israel and sometimes things were lost in translation because Hebrew is not my first language. It was all internet and Skyping, sketching and emailing.” Through the late nights, Kai was able to create a collection to be proud of – A Girl Called Lola.
The stories main character seemed obvious enough, Lola “wants to be a star and goes to L.A. to pursue her dream.” Kai says he was inspired by the determination of these dreamers in a city where anything can happen. “Once you get to LA, you get this vibe. You think you can make it happen. You think you can conquer the world. Instead of thinking that I could make it, I wanted to think of another character. This girl called Lola. I love reading these stories about girls from North Carolina or from Box Hill in Melbourne and they go all the way to LA and then make it big. So I wanted her to be that girl. She’s an Australian girl who went overseas to make it big.”
The collection is split into three parts. The first, Venice Beach, is all about the art vibe in LA. “Venice beach is the most amazing place – it’s an artsy vibe. Even though it’s by the beach, it still resonates with this 80’s vibe where people wanted to be an artist.”
Of talking about the reputation that the City of Angels has Kai says, “L.A. is the kind of thing you can’t discard. A lot of people discard it and say it’s too big, it’s too fake, and you know what, it is. But you need to discover it for yourself. You need to go and get lost. That’s how I approached it with Lola. She goes and get’s lost in Venice Beach. Everything goes back to the beach, the turquoise stones.”
Looking at the Venice Beach range it is clear where this inspiration comes from. The swirling patterns are reminiscent of murals and would easily be seen in our very own St. Kilda.
Kai says this range is best worn with a cute white lace dress or as easily on a girl from the city who wants to edge up her look with the range in black stones.
The Melrose range is “is all about the shopping and the decadence. The thing with L.A. is it still has a very Spanish vibe. All of these kinds of deco prints I saw everywhere.”
Kai recalls where he first saw the inspiration for the Melrose range. “I jumped into the pool at the hotel, and as I came up I saw this detailing on the wall. I said oh my god, took a photo of it and that was the inspiration behind it.”
Clearly seen within the patterns, geometry and detail of the jewelry you can imagine these rings on a Bohemian girl traipsing within a market or someone just as easily amused while wandering a warm city in the night.
The final section is called Lola’s Dream. “Lola has made it, she has achieved her dream and she has become a star,” which takes obvious reference to the most important symbol within the range. Kai’s killer piece is the Lol’ring.
Kai concludes about this collaboration “because this is my first collection with Magnolia Silver Jewelry, I wanted it to be Magnolia-esque. The essence of the Magnolia girl, but she’s kind of had a makeover. A Kai Aiyub makeover.”
With a very reasonable price point of $49 for earrings and around $140 for the majority of the more large pieces, this range make silver jewelry that little bit more now. Sometimes silver gets this knack for being a bit “nanna” however this collection, with its Hollywood and Summer vibe, is definitely something my girlfriends, not nanna, would be wearing.
Available now at all Magnolia stores.