As the bride, you want to look stunning for you wedding day. Of course, the dress is key, but what helps to bring the look full circle is the accessories you choose to complete it. We had the absolute pleasure to interview Kristen James, owner & creator from Gilded Shadows in Los Angeles, CA. Kristen creates truly unique and beautiful handmade head pieces that elicit a vintage feel that holds a very contemporary aesthetic for the modern bride. Thanks to the creative platform of Etsy, Kristen is not only a local vendor, but a global one with wonderful success and many happy customers!
Q. Tell us about yourself & how Gilded Shadows started.
A. Gilded Shadows started completely on a whim and was just a fun and creative release before it became a full-fledge business several months later. There were two things, though, that really gave me a good push from the beginning.
The first was when I was asked to be a bridesmaid for a girlfriend’s wedding. She was having a dress custom made and sent me several photos looking for advice on ideas she had for veils and headpieces. I realized that I could probably make something just as nice as the designs she liked so I decided to experiment and ended up making her accessories along with a headpiece for all eight of her bridesmaids.
One month later a friend’s sister (who happens to be a celebrated soap opera actress) was getting married and thought it would be a great idea to have me make her bridal party’s headpieces in addition to unique headpieces for all 60 of her female guests! Although I don’t think I charged as much as the materials ended up costing me, I was able to photograph all of these pieces to use as my first design prototypes in my Etsy shop.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration from?
A. Most of the time I get my inspiration when daydreaming… or shopping for materials and I see something that plants a little seed of an idea. It might be something sparkly or something elegant that I can imagine being made into a headpiece or veil. Bridal accessories are fashion and styles, colors and preferences are always changing so I visit bridal salons whenever I travel to see what my international customers are trending towards. My job is to create beautiful complimentary pieces that allow the bride to express her personality through the little details.
Q. How does your career as a professional architect influence your designs?
A. Things I’ve been able to apply from my career as an architect are: patience, organization, having a realistic time management plan, and how to work well with persnickety clients!
Q. What materials do you use?
A. It all depends on the piece and style of course, but I use a lot of new and vintage materials. The new materials help to modernize a style, but the vintage materials are delicate, rare, and help to make the pieces one of a kind – offering that “something old” element. I used tulle and netting to make intricate veils or to add flirty accents to headpieces and hats. Rhinestones and crystal beaded trim add the right amount of eye-catching sparkle and help complete the look with the bride’s jewelry. Whether it’s velvet baby’s breath or flowers and leaves and silk stems, the vintage millinery supplies I’ve collected were made with the type of high quality materials and craftsmanship, usually in Europe during the 40’s and 50’s, that is very hard to find these days.
Q. Can a bride create a custom order?
A. I get requests to customize my designs almost every day. It’s usually so the piece coordinates with their ensemble “just so” through colors and accent pieces. Oftentimes they will send me a photo that has inspired them. I’ve also had several requests to modernize and refashion a veil or headpiece that the bride’s mother or grandmother wore.
Q. How are these pieces typically fastened?
A. Typically I use alligator clips, metal plated combs, and silk or satin ribbons
Q. What’s your most popular piece?
A. Currently elegant 20’s era cap veils are some of my best sellers. I love to make them and think they are such an elegant style.
Q. How soon in advance should I order my piece?
A. I recommend that brides order their accessories at least one month before the wedding date and after you’ve received your dress (so you have plenty of time to do a trial run and make sure everything coordinates “just so”).
Q. Why should a bride consider one of your pieces for her big day?
A. All of my pieces are handmade one at a time with the specific customer in mind, which gives the bride a chance to have something that didn’t come off an assembly line. Many of my pieces can be customized in some way that allows the brides to express their individuality.
Q. What is one thing about your business that you take pride in?
A. Today I received an email from a bride that had photos of her in the veil from the wedding and a note that said, “Thank you for the veil. It was the talk of the wedding!” I take great pride when the brides can have that kind of experience from something that I created. I feel so honored to have been part of such a memorable day for them!
Q. Any advice for brides?
A. Planning a wedding can be very stressful so it’s important to give yourself time to plan ahead to avoid having to rush and make hasty decisions. Asking for advice from others can be helpful, but your wedding should be uniquely “you.”
Love what you see? Visit Gilded Shadows and see her endless and unique designs!
Kristen from Gilded Shadows
Los Angeles, CA
Have an amazing day, and remember to breathe.
As a fun loving couple, we love hearing “I Dos!” We provide beautiful photography and unique albums for your upcoming wedding and we capture who and what you represent to each other. Be sure to view our portfolio, and blog featuring Wedding Tips and Experts We Love interviews to plan your perfect day!