Our series of photographic portraits by Charlotte Stone shows Bristol people at work. Molly Mishi May, designer and maker of divine couture clothing 

Mishi May started two years ago when my good friend Becky White (of Ben’s Sister) and I moved into our beloved studio on a quiet street just off Stokes Croft. Since then it’s grown beyond our expectations.

We’ve been kept busy with some wonderful commissions and featured in lots of glossies, including Vogue. And we’re still growing. I started out working for costume company Hirearchy in Dorset, who have a mind-blowing collection of vintage and antique clothing. Following that I went freelance, working with couture dressmakers, tailors, corset specialists, costume makers, high tech product designers and universities, gaining the variety of skills that gave me the platform to start Mishi May.

mishimayOur motto here is that ‘fashion is a mood altering substance’ because I believe how we dress has a powerfully transformative effect on our mood. The right outfit can make an ordinary day more fun and a night out more exciting – it can lift you from the humdrum and give you confidence. And the wrong one can make you feel the opposite.

So this influences my work at the very core, whether I’m making an opulent evening dress, a fairytale wedding gown or chic minimalist tailoring. It’s all about how you want to feel. Every bespoke Mishi May bridal gown is unique, coming from a collaboration between the bride and myself. It’s my job to tap into her dreams and desires and, well, make them come true. OK, sounds a bit fairytale, but that’s essentially what we do.



I’m also working on a boutique collection whose styles are inspired by my fashion heroes, from Grace Kelly to Grace Jones. It’ll be something new, and remain effortlessly chic and elegant. Making bridal gowns is especially dress2enjoyable for me, as I’m creating someone’s dream dress, and I’m there with their mum and best friends, popping the Prosecco and being part of the excitement. I know that these become cherished memories and I love being part of something so special. I’m a super geek about materials. For bridal I use a great variety of silk
and lace, but I also like to keep up-to-date with fabric technology. If interesting materials are developed I like to try them out, and to find new ways of using existing materials. I work with a lot of leather, mouldable plastics, and even metals.

dress3I also find inspiration elsewhere. I appreciate good design in any form, and have always loved making things. I’m especially inspired by the older models we’re seeing recently – what a powerful fashion moment. And it helps being in Bristol. I’ve lived all over the UK but I’ve always been drawn back here, where I meet so many creative and inspiring people. I love this city!”


People involved in creating the stunning main image:

Photographer- Amanda Thomas

Model- Donatella Pegler

Make up- Elle Hitchens

Hair- Abi Willis and Benjamin Thompson from Melanie Giles 

Stylist- Harriet De Winton