Made from materials such as rubber and spikes with beads festooning the items like drops of blood. Prong is for the power dressers, and while some are still very feminine, it’s the type of female allure you may have to kneel down to. The range varies in style but maintains that je ne sais quoi which makes it quintessentially and noticeably Prong throughout. From a steampunk collection which while may have not been seen on the genteel ladies of a Jules Verne novel, may well have adored the necks of the Dungeon Mistresses watching over the airship pirates. To The Cult of Prong which takes the dark mistress to another level with religious iconography emblazoning your décolletage. Then on to With Diamante and floral collections mixed in with fur, crystals, leather and lace for every Diva to own the dancefloor in. There is certainly something that gives the edge to that powerful woman inside us all.
I have been watching Prong for some years now and have always been a fan, so and am glad to finally be able to catch up with Claire Leftwich Winchester to find out how it all started and where it is going.
Could you explain a bit about how you started Prong and how long it’s been going for?
I started Prong as a side-line to my job at House of Harlot back in 2001. It was a way to make a bit of extra cash at the time. Always having been a creative, I made some necklaces to go with fetish clothing and put them in the shop. And people loved them! So I made more and more, new designs coming out all the time and it grew from there.
I worked full time at House of Harlot to begin with, eventually going to part time, and then freelance there and at Libidex and Miss Katie Corsets. Eventually, things just became far too busy with Prong to keep external work, so now it’s full time at Prong!
What are the challenges running an alternative business in the current economy and competing against factory made imported goods?
It’s harder now than it has ever been – I feel lucky that things are still going well for me, but I can say with conviction that it isn’t like it was, say about 10 or so years ago. There is no way I or anyone like me with a small business can compete with manufactured goods from overseas – so I came to the decision not to even try. What makes Prong Jewellery so great is that it’s handmade, original, and unique. My advice would be never dumb-down to fit in. Stand out for the right reasons and have the courage of your convictions. When I make my fetish and punk chokers and posture collars, I do it well. If people want something to go with their latex outfits, it’s Prong Jewellery that does it best. They also get advice and assistance directly from me if they need it, and I try and develop a relationship with my customers that mass producers can never achieve.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of inspiration is through feelings. What mood am I in today? What colour do I want to wear? I also love trying to find new components. One of the original ideas behind the concept of Prong was if something shouldn’t be used as jewellery, that’s what I’m going to do with it!
Describe the range of materials that you use. Are you experimenting with any others?
I’ve used all kinds of materials over the years, but the favourite have to be the industrial rubber, leather because of the colour varieties, and now my newest, the hi-shine PVC. I’ve had zero training in jewellery manufacture. I have a BA in tailoring. Again, this is a direct influence upon my designs – there are things I can’t do, there are things I can. This all goes into the pot and what comes out is something wonderfully original.
Describe the Prong Woman
My customers are predominately women, but I do get guys wearing my styles too. I would say my main “idea” of a customer would be a woman between 18-60 who has some serious style. Think about that sexy dominatrix, that glamorous girl in impossibly high heels, a woman who knows just how to get what she wants and isn’t going to be ashamed of how she gets it. She’s full of confidence; she’s full of glamour and has a sassy attitude to go with. It’s nothing about looks; it’s about attitude when it comes to the Prong gals.
If Prong were a creature (real, mythical or made-up) what would it be & why?
Ha-ha, I’d say somewhere between a tiger and a dragon! Why? Stunning and dangerous all at the same time!
What would be your favourite piece to date?
I love my sacred heart. Anything with the claw spikes really, but I wear that piece more than any other. It’s got it all, glitter, rock ’n’ roll attitude, rubber and rivets!
What can we expect to see from Prong in the future?
Watch this space! I have some ideas for a new capsule collection at the start of the year and I’ll start working on that real soon. Sign up to the Prong mailing list and you’ll be the first to find out more!