Alchemy: A Metamorphosis Expressed - Lookbook

Arao X Joanique is the latest Alchemy collection expressing designer Malou Araneta’s transformational inner journey inspired by the Quesha people and Andean highlands in Peru.

Joanique founder and creative director, Malou Araneta, shares, “When Arao invited me to collaborate with them the Peru experience was very fresh. I was so excited about the healing and transformation that I experienced and I wanted to express that through my designs.”

Inspired by Quesha people of the Andean highlands in Peru, the latest collaboration of Arao X Joanique unveils a new chapter to the Alchemy series. Apart from being an ancient tribe that has long served as the backbone of Andean agricultural civilization, Quesha or “Runasimi” is also the unifying language of the Inca Empire some 600 years ago.

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LIke Quesha, dreams may also be considered a universal means for communication or exchange. In one’s deep slumber, dreams visit us with messages from our subconscious–or in the context of deep spirituality, from the higher self. When shared from within a tight circle of like-minded individuals or kin, dreams also serve as both a unifying language and North Star. 

In Quesha culture, dreams are often chronicled through patterns, handwoven into textiles. Araneta explains, “Quesha symbols or designs are inspired by nature. Some are based on myth, folklore, while others are symbolic of dreams.” Following a trip to the Peruvian highlands, the founder and creative director thought to reimagine Quesha woven dreams into pieces of fine jewelry, punctuated by Arao’s iconic South Sea pearls.

As it is in other parts of the world, pearls are regarded in Peruvian culture as nature’s most precious gift. True to the brand’s ethos for creating modern classics, Arao interprets the region’s age-old myths, folklore, and legend through fine jewellery pieces that bridge the past with the present. This much awaited merging of two like-minded brands also brings together sensibilities of South East Asia and South America. 

Arao Founder Mirabel Rosar shares: “I was inspired to collaborate with Joanique’s founder, Malou Araneta, because we share the same practice of self-discovery and realisation, that is through dream weaving. It is no surprise when I asked Malou to design fine jewellery for Arao, she was motivated by her recent trip to Peru and the Quesha people, who literally would weave their dreams. Ours is a marriage of two brands who dare to dream and make it a reality.”

Joanique founder and creative director Malou Araneta wears her favorite from the collection, the butterfly earrings

Arao X Joanique honors the rich traditions of highlands. It also celebrates the natural wonder and treasures of the ocean’s deepest depths. It’s a collection that enriches modern living with inspired myth, infuses fine jewellery with folklore, and brings dreams to reality.  

A collection woven by ancient myth, folklore, and dreams

Inti, meaning sun, is one of most important symbols in Quesha culture that pays reverence to “the god that looks over and takes care of people on earth.” In the context of this collaboration, it is the Peruvian counterpart of the word, Arao, which is Filipino for sun. Araneta shares, “The sun design is based on my journey of a spiral transformation. It is a journey to enlightenment represented by the sun.”

Pilhpintu or butterfly, symbolizes divine guidance towards a transformation of heart and mind. The designer continues, “The butterfly is my favorite because it was my journey, my evolution, it was a representation of what I experienced and the change that happened.” She adds, “How I was before was a totally different person as to who I am now. I know that experience catapulted me to where I am and who I am today. And that butterfly is a representation of me from being a caterpillar to being in a cocoon to becoming a butterfly.”

Quintu which means sacred leaves, is a sacred tradition in Andean culture that celebrates the sharing of coca leaves as a means for expressing respect, gratitude and kinship. 

T’ika or flower is a revered symbol in Peruvian spirituality and history. La Flor dela Cantua, more specifically, is a national symbol that represents peace and unification. Araneta explains, “This design was about sacred geometry: the flower of life. Everything that surrounds us is based on sacred geometry and I through my visions I witnessed a lot of patterns.”

Kuntur meaning condor, is one of the most resonant figures in Incan Trilogy, representing the god of the “upper world.” It is said that condor sightings are a means for the gods to help humans find their way. Araneta elaborates, “The condor is a Quesha art rendition of Sarimanok. Through my visions I saw a magical rooster and realized it is very similar to the legendary bird of the Maranao people.”

“The kuntur is the Quesha pattern. The bird design is my rendition to that pattern, the Sarimanok version,” she concludes.

For more information visit Arao’s website and follow them on Instagram. To learn more about Joanique visit the website and Instagram page.

Banner photo courtesy of Arao.

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