* In a previous version of this story we referred to Claire Leese as Game of Thrones costume designer. While Claire worked on Game of Thrones for four seasons, her role was in the wardrobe department and not as costume designer. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Having worked on four seasons of Game Of Thrones, Claire Leese is no stranger to creativity. Just minutes away from the city centre is her vintage bridal boutique, Archive 12, stocking dresses that span from the turn of the century to the 1970s.
Creative from her school days, Claire has worked with fashion magazines, including the likes of Marie Claire, Elle and Grazia, gaining the knowledge and confidence to make her mark on the fashion industry.
She later worked as a stylist assistant, dressing artists for their music videos, TV appearances and photoshoots. She said: “It was one of the most fun jobs I’ve had. I used to work for a stylist who looked after the band, The Darkness and they used to have some pretty crazy outfits involving lycra leotards.”
After spending a year in London managing the showroom for The Vintage Wedding Dress Company (now Charlie Brear), Claire was inspired to begin her own business by the number of brides who were passionate about vintage wedding dresses, with many having flown over from Ireland specially to find their perfect dress.
And the popularity of vintage wedding dresses is only continuing to grow.
Claire said: “I think the thrill of knowing no-one else will have the same wedding dress is very enticing.
“Aside from that, I love the historical and romantic ideas about who might have worn it before. Every dress has a story to tell, and I like to think I am adding another chapter to that story.”
“There is also the huge variety in shapes, styles and silhouettes. I can’t imagine you could walk into any other bridal shop and have so much choice about the shape of dress you want.”
With so many decades to choose from, there’s a design to suit everyone. Claire explained: “From 1960s short shift dresses to 1930s bias cut gowns with sleeves, you can never be sure what to expect as the stock is always changing. On a regular basis I find a dress that is unlike any other I’ve ever seen!”
Archive 12 runs by private one hour appointment slots in which brides receive one-to-one help.
“I find that once a client starts trying on the dresses I can quickly figure out what I have that will suit them. There are of course certain rules about what shapes will suit what body types, with vintage it’s all about knowing the stock inside out. For example, a dress may not be a standard size 10, it might be made for someone with a small chest but a wider hip. The secret is to be open minded and try on lots!”
Most importantly, it’s not just about finding beautiful dresses, it’s about matching a one-of-a-kind dress with the individual it’s perfect for.
“I feel like there are a lot of brides out there who don’t want the ‘traditional’ dress, and hopefully I can help them find their perfect bridal look which remains true to them.”
For more info archive12.com