Mouton Collet, between Belgian surrealism and French pragmatism

21.12.2015 - Dries Tack

Since 2009, the year that saw them launch their label, Matthieu Mouton (the Belgian) and Nicolas Collet (the Frenchman) have taken the term designer jewellery to new heights by combining their French flair and ‘Belgitude’ with global ambitions.

Moutton Collet, between Belgian surrealism and French pragmatism

The whole picture

It all began back in their student days, at the Institut Saint-Luc in Tournai, where the duo met and acquired a respectable artistic baggage. But the story didn’t stop there, as Matthieu Mouton tells us: "After graduating, we both trained in Paris, Nicolas with Hervé Leger, and I under Martin Margiela. It was just an incredible opportunity. Our paths crossed again at Nina Ricci, alongside another Belgian, Olivier Theyskens. We took the plunge into the world of jewellery at Loulou de la Falaise’s studio. That is where we fell in love with Bohemian crystal, which has become our material of choice, our trademark". 

Moutton Collet, between Belgian surrealism and French pragmatism

In 2009, the duo launched its own label: Mouton Collet, a brand that likes to associate itself with other names and other projects. With other designers (Maje, A.F. Vandevorst or Mugler), prestigious stores (Le Bon Marché), cult magazines (Vogue, ID), museums (the Louvre and the Museum of Decorative Arts), and with renowned style icons (Kate Moss, Erin O'Connor, Carmen Kass, etc.). Matthieu Mouton: "while it is true that these associations have helped us carve out a strong image, it is the chance encounters, but above all our openness that have allowed us to embark on so many collaborations. Take the hat that we were lucky to have Lady Gaga wear. All it took was a chat in London with Nicola Formichetti, her stylist, for the connection to be made. What characterizes us and allows us to plough ahead is our no-stops-barred creative process."

Moutton Collet, between Belgian surrealism and French pragmatism

A global style

Is the surrealist influence that is clearly discernible in the work of Matthieu Mouton and Nicolas Collet a shout-out to their ‘Belgitude’?

Matthieu Mouton: “That goes without saying and that is what our customers like about us. Our studios are in Paris. From a strictly business point of view, we have no choice. This is where our international clients come to discover our collections. This is also where we have developed our network. Our Parisian base allows us to gauge the temperature among the prescribers and retailers that set the trends. For the rest, we are well and truly a Belgian company which, to our great satisfaction, is distributed in Brussels, Paris, London, New York, Moscow, Singapore, Tokyo, Dubai, etc."

Moutton Collet, between Belgian surrealism and French pragmatism
Moutton Collet, between Belgian surrealism and French pragmatism

And when we talk about the commercial aspect of their brand, the duo demonstrated a refreshing pragmatism: "we are not artists, but designers working in a rapidly-changing fashion industry. Our role is to create collections that have their finger on the pulse without straying too far from our DNA. We attach great importance to the feedback from our customers. We are also rigorous about delivery times, the quality of our products, ..." And of course an international brand, once again, means keeping an open mind, as “for some markets, we sometimes agree to small adjustments. In the Middle East, the shops are on the lookout for very opulent jewellery. They ask us for example to transform daytime jewellery into an evening piece. In Japan, the changes are more to do with the size of a necklace or a ring. But whatever we do, our label must continue to be synonymous with craftmanship (all our pieces are handmade) and innovation. This season, we worked on the idea of stones with a marble-like appearance and on integrating them with our 24K gold and silver leaf jewellery."

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