Thu 21st Oct, 2010
Jo Thorne is one of the most exciting and innovative jewellery designers in wedding fashion. Her reputation to those in the know is legendary – a true pioneer of what we now term “hair jewellery”.
Jo creates stunning hair accessories and tiaras in sterling silver – completely original pieces created in her own workshop, and about as far from mass-market as you can imagine. Her work is neither repro nor reclaimed vintage, but designed and made from scratch to the highest standards of jewellery craftsmanship. They are beautifully judged designs, effortlessly combining bygone elegance and contemporary chic.
What’s more, they’re also quintessential examples of sustainable luxury – the level of craftsmanship and design means they’ll be treasured long after your wedding day. Even if you purchase a wear-once item like a tiara, Jo can transform it into a new, more wearable piece after your big day.
Jo previously retailed exclusively from her own website, but Caroline Burstein, Creative Director of Browns Fashion, spotted Jo’s unique talent at the Designer Wedding Show. Now a capsule collection is available at Browns’ prestigious bridal boutique on Hinde Street W1 – designs are also available at Dragonfly Contemporary Designs in Cheltenham and Philippa Lepley in Chelsea, with more exclusive outlets to appear in the coming months.
This has to be the most inspiring interview yet to appear on Ebury. Jo’s answers may be outspoken and provocative but they are right up our street, as what Jo stands for is elegance, exquisite craftsmanship and individuality. Her passion for beautifully crafted, sustainable luxury is right on trend and just what many brides are so desperate to track down but find it so difficult to discover.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom for brides and grooms who are planning their wedding, or any advice for the big day itself?
- Don’t do it, you still have time. I’m sure that expensive bespoke stationery company does refunds.
What advice on jewellery would you offer to brides?
- Think jewellery, not wedding.
What are your key influences and where do you get your inspiration from?
- Back when I started, I’d seen hundreds of tiaras and I thought all of them were horrible, even the respected well-known brands. So as a jewellery designer I thought it would be easy to create something better. I was wrong; it was a long and difficult process.
- I took influences from early 20th century masters - René Lalique, Cartier and so on - but I also wanted something that was less ornate and more modern, so I looked at contemporary jewellers too. This was back in the early 2000s when there was no such thing as hair jewellery in wedding fashion, and certainly no hair adornment in the modern designer jewellery world. So the idea of “hair jewellery” began to spark my imagination and eventually my own motifs and design methods emerged.
What trends/fashions do you see as important for this season and the year to come?
- The people to watch are the real couturiers. Look at new collections from Peter Langner for example, and the British designer Bruce Oldfield.
- There’s also a growing fashion trend away from throwaway culture, and this can be reflected in your choice of outfit. Rather than save money buying a cheap off-the-shelf wedding dress, why not look for a spectacular piece of couture eveningwear you can wear again? You’ll probably never get another chance like this! I was inspired recently by one of my brides who chose the most beautiful dove grey Alberta Ferreti dress, something she could just as happily wear at a chic party or dinner date.
- The same tip goes for accessories – and hair jewellery, which is now a big thing. Choose carefully, and go for properly crafted ethical luxury if you can, not easy to find but worth searching a little harder for.
- I also think vintage has been done to death now, definitely descending the fashion barometer. To qualify that, if you’re talking about an authentic piece of classic vintage design, that’s a different thing altogether – very rare, and you’ll pay a premium that matches its classic status. But most of what gets labeled “vintage” in wedding fashion is little more than reclaimed jumble sale junk or cheap costume jewellery manufactured in the Far East. Let’s give this back to the teenagers, which is where it looks best. It’s all about tailored, grown-up fashion for grown-up women this season.
Any style advice for autumn/winter brides?
- Or… not. See my previous answer, and add lots of sparkle in your outfit and/or accessories. Sterling silver is perfect for picking up the beautiful reflections from all those candles and fairly lights at this time of year, and that goes for gemstones too, but make sure you choose quality sparkle. Rather than cheap lead crystal, look for high quality cubic zirconia, which is virtually indistinguishable from diamond – only a trained eye can tell the difference.
Do you have any favourite items in your range?
- I think my Large Passionflower Hairpin is the one I’d choose, but if it was a tiara, the Pearl.
What are you working on now?
- A completely new range, look out for it in 2011.
What makes your pieces and the way you work unique/special?
- There is absolutely nothing mass-market about what I do. We run a fully functioning design studio, and everything is done in-house using a combination of old and new technologies to create and produce each piece – everything from pen and paper to the latest CAD design methods, as well as traditional silversmithing techniques of course, which are at the core of everything I do.
- Put simply, I make real sterling silver jewellery you'll treasure and wear again after your wedding. I’m a great believer in producing (and buying) sustainable luxury, something with an authentic heritage of bespoke craftsmanship.
- Ultimately I’d like to see less and less distinction between wedding fashion and designer culture – I think we're already witnessing this in the cross-fertilisation of red carpet and bridal. As a brand, this is very much where we place ourselves in the equation, and future collections will have even more of a crossover focus.
The Ebury Collection Wedding Blog. Photography courtesy of Jo Thorne www.jothorne.co.uk
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