- 1 Byredo Ceramic Potato Candle Holder
- 2 Byredo Les Icônes Makeup Gift Set
- 3 Byredo Le Corps Body Wash and Body Lotion Set
- 4 Byredo Holiday Tablecloth
- 5 Gohar World Dishwashing Gloves
- 6 Gohar World Lace Coasters With Pearls
- 7 Gohar World Strawberry Candles
- 8 Gohar World Baguette Bag and Host Necklace With Chicken Feet Pearls
White lace curtains, relics from Greece, hang in the storefront windows of Laila Gohar’s Lower East Side studio, as much a means of privacy as they are an understated calling card. Such old-world materials are a signature for the Cairo-born New Yorker, whose finely tuned food installations bring an off-kilter wit to fashion and art events. Gohar World, the line of entertaining whimsies she and her sister, Nadia, launched earlier this year, offers lace “dresses” for otherwise naked eggs; the baguette gets similar habiliment with a black satin carrier. But on a recent gloomy afternoon, Gohar finds herself in need of a pick-me-up. “Today would be the perfect day for a red lip because I’m feeling so tired and kind of scruffy,” she says, which, for her, means a Prada chore coat, black pants, and pearls— shaped, in Gohar World fashion, like chicken feet. Red is assertive, she adds. “There’s no middle ground.”
Makeup, with its elements of armor, mood lift, and finesse, is front of mind given Gohar’s latest project: a Byredo collaboration, called One Another, that’s an invitation to decorate both table and face. “I realized from an early age there is no single way to celebrate holiday,” says Byredo founder Ben Gorham, who shares a cross-cultural identity (in his case India and Sweden). “Everyone has their own take on what it means: some traditional, others entirely made-up.” As it happens, just-because occasions are Gohar’s specialty: “a tomato celebration, a coldest-night-of-the-year celebration, a sidewalk party for no reason,” she explains, ticking through a personal highlight reel. In lieu of Byredo’s usual white packaging, Gohar’s custom print (with beans and braided mozzarella) dresses up gift boxes of mascara and eye shadow; it also appears on napkins and a tablecloth sturdy enough for picnics. A special-edition tea recreates a bergamot blend that Gohar sipped as a child in Egypt. And, of course, there are potatoes: a favorite food, humble and universal, here rendered in ceramic (candle holders, salt and pepper shakers) and covered in tattoos.
Such juxtapositions call to mind Surrealist work, like Elsa Schiaparelli’s leather gloves with trompe l’oeil painted nails—an effect carried over to a new Gohar World dishwashing glove. (Another has a frilly lace cuff.) The detail evokes the Cairo women whose nails gleamed “like a red Ferrari,” says Gohar, whose own workhorse hands are admittedly “grubby.” She hopes the gloves might inject “lightheartedness into this mundane chore.”
A taste for subversion runs through Gohar’s idea of beauty. “My sister and I have this test when we design something: We always hold it up and we’re like, ‘Is this too chic for its own good?’ ” she says with a smile. In her studio, tiny candles resemble fried chicken and pink Japanese strawberries. Nearby, a couple of marionette-like figures made from dried sausages are slated for a window display at the gallery Demisch Danant; Gohar plans to show them alongside Maria Pergay’s stainless steel Ribbon Pouf—a nod to the metal’s butcher shop associations. A moment from this photo shoot floats to mind, when Gohar mock-seriously smeared a mortadella-colored Byredo lipstick across her face, to collective laughter. “When you bring my work into these settings, people become a little uninhibited. They kind of become like kids,” she says of the icebreaker. Even at a dinner party, that’s the mood to strike.