The “Introducing” is a series of interviews or stories of independent design brands that you have probably not heard of yet. It’s an introduction to the brand story, giving your more insight into the brand. Here we share the story of luxury accessory and homeware brand with founder Millie Bridget Henry.
Can you tell us the backstory of your brand? How did you get to where you are now?
I studied textile print design at the Winchester school of art and graduated in 2010. When I left I interned at various fashion houses but it was difficult at the time to get a paid job in the industry because we were at the end of a recession. I decided to go travelling and I took my sketch book with me and built an archive of beautiful images to inspire me.
When I returned to the UK I moved to London and started working for Huntsman on Savile Row as a product development assistant. It was amazing working with so many talented craftsmen & woman and during my time there I realised there was a niche gap in the market for designing prints for men’s pocket squares. I started designing in my own time and realised that this is what I wanted to do, so I left Huntsman in 2016 and I launched my brand with two small collections of pocket squares in 2018.
I was also working part time as a conservator at Buckingham Palace providing a conservation service to the Royal collection and took on other freelance work whilst I continued to establish my brand. Budd Shirtmakers, Montague Ede & Benson & Clegg were my first stockists in London and this is where it all began. Since then I have gained new international stockists in Thailand, Singapore & Norway.
It has taken a lot of determination and grit dealing first with Brexit and then the pandemic but I really love what I do and I want to create beautiful prints for people to wear or to brighten up people’s living spaces.
What is different about Millie Bridget Henry?
My designs aren’t led by current trends because I want to produce classic & timeless prints in vibrant & unusual colour ways which don’t become “last season” and the products are high quality and designed to last. I also like to design by hand rather than on CAD because the lines are imperfectly perfect and the process for me is therapeutic. When you are an artist or designer, and you can create freely then it’s your handwriting and style which is unique and different to everyone else.
How important is sustainability and producing your products in the UK?
When I worked on Savile Row I gained great insight into British manufacturing and I really appreciated the history, knowledge and craft that goes behind making high quality cloth and products. It’s great to support the industry and to be able to go and see the products being made and to establish connections with people without traveling long distances, especially if there are any issues.
I also think it’s important to produce products that are high quality and designed to last a long time because we live in a throw away society and we should bring back producing high quality products and buying from independent brands who aren’t mass producing. You are more inclined to hold onto a product that may have cost a little more but you know the history of how the product was made and who it was made by.
Can you tell us more about your collections and the inspiration behind them?
Nature has always had a huge influence on my work because you only have to pick up a flower to look at the incredible detail and look at ways you can interpret that into different mark making techniques for a design. I also love to travel and I think a change of scenery is always good because you can become desensitised to your everyday surroundings, but when you are in another country all of your senses are heightened and I always feel excited to start on new collections when I come back.
The Wilderness collection was inspired by wild and natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly altered by humans and the wild animals that roam within the surrounding habitats.
The Snow Leopard has evolved to live in some of the harshest conditions on Earth and remains one of the most mysterious cats in the world. They are known as “ghosts of the mountains” because of their elusive nature.
Leopards are highly adaptable and are found in habitats from deserts to rain forests. They are found in a large part of Africa, parts of the Middle East, eastern Russia, and parts of Asia including China, India, and central and southwestern Asia.
Blackbucks are herbivores and can be found feeding on grass and vegetation in open grassland, dry thorn scrub and lightly wooded areas of Pakistan and Northern India. The most striking feature of the blackbuck is the long, spiralling horns of the adult male which have ridges from the base to the tips.
Royal Bengal Tigers mainly inhabit the tropical forests of the Indian sub-continent. As a top predator, tigers play an important role in maintaining a diverse and healthy ecosystem within their habitat landscapes.
White Tigers preferred habitats is in the Asian and Indian subcontinent, just like the Bengal tiger. A white tiger’s habitat would exist of tropical jungles, mangrove swamps and grasslands, their habitat would also include plenty of fresh water nearby.
The Indian Wolf is a subspecies of the grey wolf that ranges from southwest Asia to the Indian subcontinent. They can thrive in a diversity of habitats from woodlands, forests, grasslands, and dessert.
The Bloom collection was inspired by English garden flowers which start to flourish and bloom in the spring. The colours I used are much softer and more muted natural tones in comparison to my previous collections.
After being locked down in the UK over the last year I explored more of the UK and took inspiration from the Jurassic coastline selecting colours from the chalk cliffs, ocean, and beaches. The collection represents hope, growth and new opportunities as we are emerging from a long dark winter.
The Geometric collection was inspired by my love for art deco and the captivating details used within architecture and the decorative arts movement. I have created very subtle differences on each colourway by highlighting different areas of the print with vibrant & luxurious colours.
The Exotic Bird Collection
The Exotic Bird collection was inspired by some of the incredible countries I have been fortunate enough to travel around and the idea came to me when I was looking through my fabrics from my degree show. I came across a beautiful silk devore piece I had screen-printed, and the main focus of the motif was the bird of paradise. It offered so many beautiful markings and textures that I decided to take a closer look at birds for the main theme of my new collection.
What are your plans for the near future?
I have started work on a new collection of silk cushions that I will be launching in SS23 and I want to develop new product ranges. The beauty of print is that you can apply it to so many different mediums. I have also started to look at designing wallpaper, which I hope to start developing next year. I would also love to collaborate with other brands so I’m always open to opportunities and new projects which might come my way.
Find silk cushions, scarves, art prints and more on: milliebridgethenry.com
Follow Millie Bridget Henry on Instagram for latest updates.
READ ANOTHER DESIGN STORY HERE.
From innovative social retail, disruptive beauty brands to natural luxe interiors and maximalist art, this edition is a must-read for any creative.
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