GEMS, HOOPS AND COSMIC PULLS: STEPHANIE D’HEYGERE’S WHIMSICAL TOUCH
Words ANANO SHALAMBERIDZE
A spontaneous work trip to Paris last week presented me with the unexpected chance to chat with Stephanie D’heygere, the creative force behind the widely acclaimed accessories sensation ‘D’heygere.’
True to form, my phone data chose this opportune moment to be uncooperative—an all-too-familiar occurrence before any crucial meeting in my life. Consequently, I found myself unsure of when exactly to anticipate Stephanie’s arrival or how to even recognize her on sight. However, when she entered the café with her ‘D’heygere x Longchamp’ collaboration tote and her Instagram-famous hoop earrings, the suspense disappeared.
Stephanie’s story, much like many of her predecessors’, starts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. While studying fashion design, Stephanie D’heygere quickly realized that her true passion lay not in draping and textiles but in accessories. This realization solidified during an internship at Lanvin, where, after contributing to the accessories department, her suspicions were confirmed. The real learning, she attests, took place at Maison Margiela, where she served as the head of accessories for four years. Following the Margiela chapter, Stephanie embarked on a freelance journey, contributing her design talents to renowned brands like Jacquemus, Y/Project, Courreges, and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others. However, in 2018, she sensed a cosmic pull—an unmistakable sign that the time had come to launch her own endeavour. Speaking of…
‘D’heygere’ (pronounced in Flemish, the language of her origin, though Stephanie welcomes varied interpretations) emerged from design concepts that Stephanie deemed too bold or eccentric for her freelance clients. Naming “accessorizing the accessories” as the main design philosophy, Stephanie strives to create in response to the growing chaos that has become to constitute our daily life.
The first result of this creative endeavor became known as the ‘Canister Hoops,’ earrings that allow the wearer to interlace ordinary objects like cigarettes or flowers within the jewelry, providing an enduring opportunity to customize and reinvent a single jewelry piece instead of resorting to repurchase. Though seemingly simple, this concept solidified Stephanie’s position as one of the most innovative jewelry designers, earning her the 2018 ANDAM Accessories Prize.
Anano: To me, jewelry often holds great sentimental value – whether it's a ring passed down from your grandmother or a friendship necklace from a cherished friend. Do you believe there is a distinct kind of sentiment involved in creating jewelry? Is there an intention to craft something that possesses value beyond mere visual appeal? Stephanie: I think that's a great point. Of course, I hope that those who buy my work today will pass it on to their children in 30 years. This is why the quality itself is crucial. All pieces are crafted from silver with enduring materials. Beyond that, I want to keep the designs minimal, not too decorative, avoiding becoming visually tiresome over time. Jewelry, being inherently personal, cannot gain sentimental value instantly, of course; it evolves over time. So what we do to enhance this personal connection is that many of our pieces can be accessorized and customized by adding elements such as a flower or a cigarette that fit into the mold. This already allows the buyer to add a personal touch to their purchase. We appreciate the versatility of our jewelry, where one earring can be worn in numerous ways, eliminating the need for constant changes.
Museums, exhibitions, movies, research, travel, and flea markets—all serve as sources of inspiration, but above all, Stephanie enjoys building upon something she has already designed. A piece from the last collection that she envisions evolving or reinventing in some way serves as the catalyst for her boundless imagination. This approach ensures the cohesiveness of ‘D’heygere.’ Progress comes first!
“If you continue working on one design and improving upon it, so many other babies can come from it!”
For Stephanie, creating collections every six months presents a challenge—not because generating new ideas is difficult, but rather, narrowing down the abundance of concepts in her head proves to be the real struggle. As we scrolled through the lookbook for the upcoming collection, my attempt to decipher the voice recording that I am now listening to is hindered by my somewhat embarrassing exclamations of excitement every two seconds. It seems I’ve declared every piece in the 60-piece collection as my favorite.
Despite embracing the subversive and conceptual elements that define a modern-day accessories brand, Stephanie acknowledges the significant influence of classic jewelry pieces on her work. Take, for instance, the ‘Solitaire Engagement Ring’ from her upcoming collection—a design rooted in the classic engagement ring shape but reimagined and reworked. It takes on new forms, appearing as a necklace, a bracelet, or in a ring shape, but with a twist—this time, it comes complete with the actual ring box on your finger. If you’re looking for a simple silver ring, you can go somewhere else.
Although maybe risky and less conventional, D’heygere’s designs have become a hit everywhere. The brand’s recent collaboration with the eyewear giant Gentle Monster propelled them into unprecedented stardom. Requests for a restock flooded in daily, a demand that the Korean eyewear brand agreed to meet—making D’heygere the first collaboration to ever receive such an extension.
At times, however, things don’t prove as financially rewarding. The flower pot hat, a design Stephanie personally finds incredibly, unfortunately didn’t sell. Nevertheless, it’s a risk she’s willing to embrace in the pursuit of authenticity.
Astonished by the fact that alongside her massively successful brand, Stephanie continues to freelance at Y/Project, Diesel, and Jacquemus, I find myself pondering how she manages her time. Drawing inspiration from these prominent brands where she contributes to fashion shows and goes backstage—something she wouldn’t be able to do with her own brand—Stephanie reveals that, despite the workload, splitting her work among different projects serves as a lifeline for her creativity.