We can’t stand choosing precise words to describe our personalities, and for this one, we just couldn’t do it. Alexandra Senes is a...
Clémence, who are you?
I am a woman, a daughter, a mother, a sister, a friend and the creator of the Côme Éditions brand. I love my family more than anything else, and I take things very much to heart. I have my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds. I’m doing my best to find the right balance.
Can you tell us how Côme Éditions was born? Why did you choose this name?
Côme Éditions was born five years ago, sitting on our parents’ bed. My brother and I were finishing our respective studies at the same time (he in finance and I in fashion), and we started to ramble on about a shared project. The idea of a ready-to-wear brand quickly took shape. For the brand, we wanted to find a first name that combines our two worlds. We loved Côme for its poetic side, but above all for its meaning: from the Greek Kosmos, Côme means the Universe, harmony and balance. The term “éditions” underlines the fact that we don’t make collections. We’re independent, and we create outside the fashion and seasonal calendar. Throughout the year, we offer limited editions of clothing that make sense to us.
How did you and your brother develop it?
We work a lot on instinct. That is the advantage of not having been trained by large organisations. It allows us to adjust our concept and vision over time. Right from the beginning, we wanted to give meaning to the brand. We find that meaning through our collaboration with CSAO (Compagnie du Sénégal et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest), through embroideries made by hand in Senegal by women in difficult circumstances. Manufacturing the vast majority of our pieces in Paris was important from a practical and eco-responsible point of view. We have stopped traditional wholesaling to produce less and better. We have just launched our new project, “Recôme”, which allows us to give a second life to leftover fabrics instead of leaving them lying in the back of a cupboard. This gives rise to unexpected and exclusive pieces and outlines, because they are only available in limited quantities.
What is Côme’s style? What kind of people are your clothes designed for?
Poetic and contrasting. We like to tell stories through our clothes. This is reflected in two-tone pieces, patchworks, prints and a mix of styles: masculine and feminine, supple and structured, sophisticated and devil-may-care! Our clothes are designed for girls who like to stand out and express their personality through unique and distinctive pieces. One of our best-sellers is our red satin jacket; our customers can have whatever they wish embroidered on it. Often, these are unique messages that they feel define them and tell their stories.
“Côme is a story of visible and invisible threads”: which ones have made the greatest impact on you in your life?
Every day we are inspired by the people around us: our family, our friends, the people we work with. Our parents have always encouraged us to do what we love. They thrive in their various activities and are also deeply committed to others. Mona Chasserio, the founder of the La Maison Rose organisation in Dakar (where our first jackets were embroidered) is an inspiring, dedicated woman who makes you want to fight for her projects. Last year, we met Rosalie Mann, who runs the No More Plastic Foundation, which raised our awareness of environmental issues. Encounters like this make you want to do things differently, and with conviction. From a professional point of view, we’ve had the opportunity to meet inspiring people with whom we were able to share ideas, learn and progress, notably through the Talents de la Fédération du Prêt-à-porter programme, but also through our collaborations with established brands such as Sézane, Le Bon Marché and Monoprix. Our team is also a significant driving force when it comes to thinking things through. Their creativity, their involvement and their high standards enable us to move forward every day.
You have a large family, are they good ambassadors for Côme?
Of course! Our mother and sister are always dressed in Côme! And our grandmother was a great ambassador. They are major sources of inspiration, and the first to “test” our new models. The unexpected and sometimes eccentric combinations put together by our sister Noémie Saglio can be the source of stylistic ideas. Moreover, we often have mothers and daughters who come to dress in our clothes together. We don’t make many pieces for men, but my husband collects them. So he’s a very good ambassador too!
There is quite a soft range of colours throughout your home, as it is in your designs. What is your current palette?
The same as it has been from the outset: a mixture of navy blue and blue-grey, burgundy and powder pink.
Antoine's grandfather used to draw all day, and we are lucky to have some of his paintings in our living room. They remind me of Kandinsky's work.
Tell us about your decoration. Where has your furniture come from?
From all over the place. We have found tables, consoles and desks in flea markets, we have salvaged lights and a large leather armchair from the family, we covered our vintage Caravan sofa last year with sea-green velvet and bought the other one at AMPM… We also find rugs at Maison S (the company that belongs to my sister-in-law, Sibylle de Tavernost), and some pieces have come from our recent “Côme dans un rêve” collaboration with Monoprix. Above all, I place great sentimental value on things. I lost my grandmother last year. She and I were very close, and I have kept lots of books, boxes and picture frames to retain the impression that she, to a degree, still with us. We have several sculptures made by my mother and her group of artist friends (the Sardines), including a mirror that I love. On our shelves, we display a little of everything we love: handmade lamps by Henriette Jansen, poetic sculptures by Clémentine de Chabaneix, CSAO plates, tiny personalised bottles of sand from Gorée Island, tinted family photos and so on.
Your mother has just published a book, and you yourself have a well-stocked library. What do you like to read? Any work to share with us in particular?
This year, my mother published her first novel with Albin Michel, Aya, which tells the story of a young Senegalese girl’s life. And our father has just published a book on the disruptive philosophies of great leaders (Thank You for Disrupting). A few years ago, I spent months recording my 95-year-old grandmother’s memories of her amazing life. I have written it all down in a book, Moi Josette; it has been printed, and a copy sent to everyone who was important to her. I love novels, biographies… and personal development books! I can recommend Guy Corneau’s books, and especially Le Meilleur de Soi (The Best of Ourselves), which I discovered years ago but which left its mark on me. Very recently I read Rien Ne S’oppose A La Nuit (Nothing Holds Back the Night), Delphine de Vigan’s novel, which upset me.
You knew all about The Socialite Family before we met! What does our media presence – our brand, represent for you?
It’s a real source of inspiration! I’ve known about your media presence for a while now, and I often go there to pick up ideas. We have your book, Le Guide Déco, in our library.
In which restaurants, grocery shops or other favourite businesses are we likely to find you?
I have a slightly unusual addiction: I’m addicted to matcha. I know the best places to enjoy it! In the centre of Paris: Toraya; because, in addition to their organic matcha tea, their pastries are to die for. In the Marais: Laize, just below my house, for their matcha with tapioca pearls and their melt-in-the-mouth matcha cake. Left bank: Saint Pearl, for their matcha latte with plant milk and their matcha cookies. And if it’s not those, I often end up in the secret garden at Bontemps, very close to home. Their brunches are brilliant and kid-friendly.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily