The designer and artisan behind Miss Clemmie Bridal Accessories, Clementine Clayton, started her business in 2014; she now sells to boutiques all over the UK and brides across the globe. Following an early career in antiques, Clementine turned her eye for fine jewellery and accessories into a career, designing heirloom quality accessories using traditional millinery and jewellery making techniques. Today, her handmade headdresses, combs, pins, veils, and jewellery entice brides from all over the world, seeking that special something for their big day. Each order is made with elements of vintage and antique heirlooms, giving them, in the words of Clementine, “a new part to play in someone’s love story”. Based in Northamptonshire, Clementine can mostly be found working in her studio with her fluffy pussy cat, Oscar.
Follow Clementine and her daily creations on Instagram @miss_clemmie_bridalaccessories
How did you begin making bridal accessories, Clementine?
It’s been a twisting road to what I do now, creating accessories and jewellery for brides. Originally I worked in antiques, I was so enchanted by old pieces and the stories behind them. The dealer I worked with specialized in small silver pieces and jewellery; I was in my element and loved the processes of restoring them and learning their stories. I was a magpie for the pieces beyond help and used to turn them into social stationery (there were lots of ruby and diamond anniversary card commissions featuring the real thing). I had a few lessons with a Hatton Garden jeweller and progressed to jewellery, then I made some pieces for a friend’s wedding and it morphed into the business it is today.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that the majority of pieces I make are ‘bespoke’ and are designs commissioned by brides to include their own special details. I love collaborating to create the piece that perfect for them. This means I’m always working on unique pieces and stretching myself design wise. Some of my favourite collection pieces (repeatable designs) have stemmed from bespoke pieces that were just so pretty when finished. By using vintage elements they are all unique and that these lovely treasures get a chance to shine again. Many commissions have included family jewels from family no longer with them, turning them into a new family heirloom, those are always so amazing to do.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
I love looking through auction catalogues at old designs especially from the deco and Edwardian era – I love the quality of these – the opulence of them coordinates beautifully with the gowns chosen by my brides. This year I’ve taken a turn towards things that I’d like as a bride; classic but with a touch of the whimsical. My Birdsong pieces and butterflies are a twist on the 18th-century bird motifs seen in women’s crafts and interior styles from the time. There’s always something to trigger off a new design, I love keeping an eye on the haute couture collections; the jewellery they team with their garments is always divine!
Talk us through a day in your workplace…
At the moment ‘Miss Clemmie’ is just me, I’m the designer, maker, packer, webmaster… It’s me working away with the occasional interruption (help) from my little boy, Milo. I’m usually trying to get all the admin jobs cleared down quickly so I can get on with making. I mostly sell through bridal boutiques and it’s lovely to catch up with them to see how the pieces are working for them. I do a lot of in-store trunk-shows, I love getting out and meeting brides and I get lots of ideas from them for new projects and finding them the perfect design to team with their gown.
Where do you source your materials from?
I still find my antiques through my favourite dealers. I’m lucky enough to have a great source for vintage Chechz Rhinestones which have the most beautiful dull lustre and aren’t too bright.
Why bridal accessories?
Wedding days are wonderful, I can’t imagine doing anything more fun than making beautiful crowns and headdresses all day. A bride’s wedding accessories should be the most exquisite jewels they own. I love to make pieces brides fall in love with, that last a lifetime and become heirlooms for years to come. I’m a little, but beautiful, part of their big day.
What has your most memorable creation or client been?
I’ve had a well-known client or two, which I didn’t realize until after I’d finished their orders and things clicked, I was flattered they’d chosen to wear my designs for their big day. My favourite pieces have been made for editorial shoots, I especially love to make a crazy crown or two — my favourite would be the silk butterfly headdress I made, it was so perfect a headdress of 30 hand cut whimsical winged spirits… It was a bit of a passion project I made, just because it popped into my head, and I just had to see it in the flesh.
What are you working on at the moment and what’s in store for the future?
I’m excited for my 2018 collections to launch later this summer; beautiful pieces inspired by botanical elements — they’re gold and mother of pearl, the most beautiful combination. Their shapes mimic gold plasterwork you see in the stately homes around here and are a little bit of a nod to the Alexander McQueen catwalk looks. I have a little Italian escape planned with some wedding buddies to work on some creative projects in October,
Last but not least, do you have a favourite flower, and why?
I love camellias. I have a dear friend who cultivates them in Georgia, he has something like 500 plants – he’s known as the ‘Camellia Man’. He has such infectious passion for them, I can’t help but love them too. Some of the flowers in my Gilded Blossom collection remind be of them, they have such perfect petals all uniform and blousy. I especially like the white ones, they’re perfect for brides and what’s more, I love that they’re related to tea – I like tea!