Belgian design: Souvenirs de Pomme


I am going to go out on a Twiggy limb and make a bold fashion statement, or rather, a bold statement about fashion. There are two types of jewellery wearers: those who select their clothes then add jewellery to match, and those who choose their jewellery and subsequently plan their ensemble around it.

Sister jewellery design duo, who make up Souvenirs de Pomme, understand this difference and cater to the naked-without-earrings feeling unique to those who are mad about accessories. Creator Delphine Cordie, the elder sister of this young Flemish pair, opened the business a year after their iconic and perpetually-stylish grandmother (alias Pomme) died in 2008, bequeathing them her Hermes Kelly bag along with other timeless luxury brand treasures. The nostalgia was so great that upon inheriting their grandmother’s things, Delphine decided to turn her jewellery-making hobby into a profession and pay tribute to her late grandmother’s panache.  Speaking to younger sister Emilienne Cordie, who joined the business full time a year ago, it was easy to imagine the two as young girls playing dress up, raiding their beloved grandmother’s costume jewellery box and adorning themselves with 60’s era clip-ons, baubles, bangles and colourful strings of pearls.

One thing is clear, though, the Cordie sisters’ girlhood pastime is certainly not child’s play. Five years into the business, which they run out of a small workshop in Deule, a suburb of Gent, Souvenirs de Pomme is well on its way to becoming a lucrative, long-term venture. Their collections are displayed in 18 stores across Belgium, the business has expanded enough to warrant working with an Italian supplier so as to concentrate exclusively on design, and they are soon to launch a more exclusive line. The long-term goal is to dangle their collections in front of international noses once they’ve made enough of a name for themselves here in Belgium.

Their overall concept is to inspire people to be more flamboyant and fun in their accessorizing, while making something of high quality which will stand the fashion test of time and can be passed down to children as their grandmother did with them.    

“For us, jewellery should be something really much more special than just something materialistic. It should have a story, like the story of our grandmother, and it should really be a kind of a treasure you hold onto, like a memory or a souvenir of a special occasion or a special party,” said Emilienne.  

On the other hand, the Souvenirs de Pomme philosophy is just as much that fancy jewellery should not be something locked away in a velvet-lined mahogany box that must only be worn for high tea with the Belgian queen. Extravagance and luxury have their place in daily life, for those who are daring enough to bust out jewellery that says, ‘In case you didn’t notice, I look fabulous,’ even if you’re cleaning the house.

Or, in Emilienne’s words: “Every day should be a party.” Souvenirs de Pomme style guide is – put on a pair of jeans, a white shirt and a pair of oversized bright pink earrings and several mismatching bracelets (what they call arm candy) and the day revolves around their chink and chime. Jewellery is the fulcrum point of the ensemble and their ideal client is someone with the confidence to pull it off.

“With jewellery you can really make a statement, and use colour and wear a really black outfit and make it really pop. For us, accessories are so much more fun to combine than clothing,” she said.

Moreover, jewellery is not season-related, she said, so there is more freedom to design without having to be a slave to what others in the industry are doing. For their upcoming spring summer 2015 collection, the Cordie sisters departed from fashion almost entirely, instead choosing to collaborate with a local chef and in a hybrid of food/fashion photography. (Although it does beg the question: who leaves an expensive earring lying on a fruit plate except perhaps Marie Antoinette?)

Emilienne said of the concept: “We didn’t really look for inspiration in fashion, we looked to food because it is something that is much less related to time. We like to be inspired by things other than fashion because we think that art and food are related to aesthetics and beauty so we found a really creative cook. We were really drawn to his creativity and the texture and colour and the way he composed and placed the food.”

Indeed, the jewellery does look good enough to eat, to say nothing of the food by Tom van Lysebettens, whose restaurant Cochon Deluxe in February. 

Souvenirs de Pomme’s current autumn/winter collection – called Stardust – used darker colours and worked with onyx and burnt quartz, this season is “more eclectic and a bit abstract” Emilienne said. The coming season, set to launch in January, has “a lot more colour, a lot more gold”.

Wherever the future of Souvenirs de Pomme is headed, it can only be said that these ladies certainly have a lot more up their sleeves … besides the obvious bracelets, of course.