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Today I am delighted to welcome you to a wonderful French brand Le Colonel. Le Colonel are a French accessories and loungewear client. An independent atelier based in Lille, Le Colonel creating pieces for men, women and children, specialising in the wedding sector. They use gorgeous fabrics, unique motifs, and Liberty prints for their one-off designs, and are stocked on Wolf & Badger as well as their stores in Lille & Shoreditch.
With over 200,000 weddings taking place in France every year, Le Colonel is the leading men’s wedding accessories company in the country. They also offer a hugely popular bespoke service which allows couples to coordinate for the whole wedding party – e.g., bridesmaid’s bracelets matching with bow ties or ties, and flower girl’s sashes matching with page boy bow ties. Couples can even have accessories made from their own fabrics, adding an extra personalised aspect to the big day.
Le Colonel has some notable wedding brand collaborations under their belt, from Samson to Cotton Bird, from Cannes Film Festival to Veuve Clicquot. Amongst their fans are the former French president’s son, François Hollande, who got married wearing Le Colonel. They also count British names Stephen Fry, Vick Hope & Joel Dommett amongst their fans.
Today we are speaking to Clementine Fenton, creative director at Le Colonel. Clementine is 32 and British and is based in Lille where she heads up Le Colonel and another fashion brand FYU PARIS, with her husband, Valentin.
Le Colonel was created ten years ago when Remi Duboquet, our founder, struggled to find an original bow tie to his taste. So he sourced his own fabric, bought a sewing machine and started to craft his own bow ties. This quickly became a passion, after which Remi’s partner Clemence launched a successful blog and Le Colonel quickly took off. Le Colonel is now headed up by Valentin, Clemence’s brother and myself. Val and I met in when he opened the London boutique and it’s thanks to Le Colonel that we fell in love and got married.
When did you start?
I joined the project in 2018-2019 starting out translating for Le Colonel’s website, and soon becoming a creative consultant for the company. I became creative director in 2021 when the founders left the company.
Where are you based?
Le Colonel HQ is based in Lille, in the north of France. This is where we sew all our accessories in our atelier with our small team of 12 seamstresses, and around 8 people working in the offices.
What sort of geographical area do you cover?
We have boutiques in London, Lille, Paris and Lyon, as well as our online shop which ships worldwide.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Le Colonel created a bespoke collection for Loreal Paris X Cannes Festival in 2017 to celebrate 20 years of their collaboration – the ultimate French black tie event.
What makes you different to your competitors?
We make everything by hand, with an awful lot of love. We also believe in sourcing our materials as locally as possible, right down to the thread we use to sew – which comes from a family business 10km away. We stock hundreds of different fabrics, allowing couples to create really special moments for their big day with tailor-made accessories if they wish to go outside of our classic range.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love my job because I really believe in what we do. I believe in slow fashion, local sourcing, I believe in having fun and expressing yourself with stunning accessories. And most of all I am proud to be part of the revivial of the textile industry in the north of France.
What sort of couple do you think you attract?
Le Colonel couples are full of joie-de-vivre, laughter, and conviction. They want to shop sustainably and also look a bit different from the classic wedding trends.
What would be your ideal wedding to work on?
Lucy Williams (blogger & fashion influencer) I think her style strikes a really great balance between classic British, boho style and modernity. She also seems to appreciate artisanship.
Can you give me some information on your pricing structure?
Wedding accessories in our range start at £25, and tailor-made accessories price around £47, with discounts for group orders.
What’s new at Le Colonel?
We are loving the wedding trends coming through this year: natural and earthy tones are everywhere. That’s why we decided to launch our new range of linen accessories in beautiful natural tones such as sage and terracottas, which are already proving very popular amongst couples this year. Already available in boutique, and available online from 22nd April.
What is your ideal way to spend a day off?
A lovely lie-in, cup of tea and cuddles with our cats in bed, followed by a big brunch and trip to the beach with Val. Topped off by supper and long conversations at a seaside restaurant.
What can you never leave the house without?
My late grandmother gave me a gold bracelet style watch that she saved up to buy when she was a young woman. She never had the chance to meet Val but I wore it for our wedding and it felt like she was with us in some way.
Who would be your 5 dream dinner guests dead or alive?
Arundhati Roy, Stephen Fry, Jean Reno, Lennie Ware (Jessie Ware’s mum) & Buddha. I think we’d all get on famously.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d love to have a big holiday house in the countryside in France where we’d gather together with our families, with all my nieces and nephews running around.
If you weren’t running your business, what would you be doing?
Since the global pandemic, I have been trying to invest in my creative passions. So I would be sewing – probably making patchwork bedspreads, throwing clay and singing in my rock group.
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