Leeds College of Art Alumna Claire Toole, recently opened The Bridal Emporium in Leeds Grand Arcade. The boutique is a treasure-trove of vintage inspired wedding gowns and accessories offering something unique for brides in Leeds.
We caught up with Claire during the grand opening of The Bridal Emporium to find out all about it and what inspires her.
“I find that wedding dresses are a woman’s statement piece, a once in a lifetime gown that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. To be a part of that process is so uplifting. My design work is very ethereal, girly, soft with a hint of vintage inspiration. I collect antique postcards and I am very influenced with 1900’s, the silhouette, fabrics, decoration and colours are just exquisite. I studied a degree in historical costume, vintage and antique has been a huge influence on my work.”
You studied the National Diploma in Fashion Design at Leeds College of Art how did this help you in starting out professionally?
“The course tutors were dedicated to the students, the equipment, studio space and intensity of the course was perfect for me as I loved learning in the environment I was in. The course offered the option to do an OCR Tailoring which I took and this provided me with fundamental knowledge for going on to doing a BA Honours degree. My garment knowledge, pattern cutting and designs were at a high standard because of Leeds College of Art. I have very happy memories of my time at the College, from making friends and with the tutors support, there was always somebody there to help and advise.”
What are your plans for the future?
“The Bridal Emporium only stocks independent British designers; I am using my store in Leeds as a test store to see how the bridal market reacts to British designers and if small independent designers are ready for the next stage too. The aim is to open up bridal stores around the UK, only stocking local designers, offering them space to design and create their products in store with the flexibility for brides to be meeting the actual designer. I’m currently designing my own range of gowns designing as Claire Amelia ready for launch in January 2015.”