Date posted: March 25, 2024

Mele + Marie: A tale of fine Philippine artistry

By: Aly Dela Peña

Elegance, function, and style. When one thinks of the Filipino brand Mele + Marie, these are the qualities that spring to mind. The company has been making accessories and minaudieres with thoughtful narratives and avant-garde concepts since its modest beginnings. Each handmade and timeless piece tells a life story through wearable art.

According to designer Rome Oamil, the second-generation owner of Mele + Marie, the Emman Clutch was inspired by the story of David and Goliath. “The story that we want to impart is that no matter how big your enemy or problem is in life, you have the ability to go through it and remain victorious.”

Rome shared that their dedication to their customers drives them to create something that is distinct yet familiar. The bag is made of abalone shell wrapped in 24-k gold-dipped metal. Its shape and mold–from the base shell to the textured gold-plated metal, are made by hand. Its curved enclosure is intricately and uniquely welded to form uneven waves around its body. A departure from the brand's usual, the finishing touch is a curved handle made of shell.

The original concept, fine artistry, and attention to detail that went into the making of the Emman Clutch didn’t go unnoticed. In the last edition of Manila FAME 2023, it won the Katha Award for Best Product Design for Fashion.


Details of Mele + Marie’s Emman Clutch from the Basket Collection

A Bagful of Hopes and Dreams

Husband and wife Melecio and Rosemarie Oamil began exporting their accessories in the early 1990s around the major fashion capitals: New York, London, Milan, and Paris. They expanded their offerings to eye-catching luxury bags that highlight local artistry and ingenuity.

"There are a number of reasons as to why we think our brand has expanded throughout the world," shared Rome. "One of them is because of our distinct and creative designs. Everything from the brave shapes and sizes, to the variety of shells, and the unusual use of other mediums such as metal and wood."

"Another reason is because of the story of MELE + MARIE and how it came to be. Each collection that we have released has a story to tell and a message to convey. A message of love, encouragement, and purpose," she added.

Watch the FAME+ interview with the designer where she shares her inspirations, processes, and the brand’s humble beginnings.




Carrying on meaningful narratives


Different minaudieres from Mele + Marie

Since its inception, Mele + Marie has been a producer of various products that take elements from the rich culture and history of the Philippines. For instance, its prized Basket Collection, which includes the Emman Clutch, features indigenous materials such as mother of pearl and abalone shells, gold cage encasings, and crinkled 18-karat gold-dipped designs adorned with stones, crystals, and gems.

Thea Minaudiere from the Harvest Collection

Meanwhile, its Harvest Collection consists of pieces that are constructed with gold-plated brass and feature the unique intricacies of rice grains–a staple Filipino food. All the bags in this collection are made of sustainably sourced shells from Cebu.

Jennifer Clutch bag from the Love Collection

In addition to Filipino elements, romance and femininity have also inspired Mele + Marie to give birth to another line of designs. Its Love Collection has products that spotlight the word ‘love’ accentuated by the use of mixed media. Geometric in shape, the bags in the collection are imaginatively created with letter cuts made of resin, metal, and shell.


Lydia Metal Clutch bag from the Freedom Collection

The cage-like construction of the bags under the Freedom Collection, on the other hand, exudes liberty and boldness. The pieces are made of colored mesh wire, hammered metal sheet cover, black coated metal strips, and leather strip finishing. The distinct see-through bodies of the bags are adorned with beads, shells, acrylic, and metal.

Set to once again captivate the market, Mele + Marie has an upcoming collection to be released in Spring 2024. Learn more by visiting their FAME+ storefront.



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