Houghton Bride is equal parts 70s cool and classical romance. Ever since the ready-to-wear brand launched a bridal label for Fall/Winter 2013, designer Katharine Polk has continued to create looks that capture the essence of the woman she designs for — fashionable, with a little bit whimsy, and a great deal of sophisticated sex appeal. We sat down with the designer who stands behind her mission of creating a bridal collection for the woman who wants to get married in something simple, sexy and timeless, to discuss launching e-commerce, designing for celebrities, and planning her first runway show for Houghton Bride.
With Bridal Fashion Week less than eight weeks away, Houghton designer Katharine Polk shared a few exclusive details with Brides.com — including plans to launch bridal accessories (!!!) in the first runway show for Houghton Bride.
"Right now, I'm working on the spring/summer 2015 ready-to-wear collection for Houghton, which will debut at New York Fashion Week in less than two weeks. I draw so much inspiration for the bridal collection from the ready-to-wear collection. For our upcoming bridal collection, I'm most excited about the jewelry collaboration in the works for Houghton Bride. We will be showing accessories for the first time (for our first runway show!) — but it won't be typical bridal jewelry, it will be very Houghton."
Photo: Courtesy of Houghton Bride
Houghton Bride's custom dress business specializes in hand-embroidered details and bringing a bride's dream look to life, all from the atelier in the heart of New York City.
"One of my first custom gowns was a pale pink lace gown in a wrap dress style, with three-quarter-length sleeves and a small train. We hand-embroidered the lace with iridescent sequins, giving it a slight shimmer in certain light," mused the designer. "The best part was the bride — she was in her 40's and knew she was not going to wear white on her wedding day. She looked amazing." When asked about the length of time required for the custom fitting process, Polk explained, "For us, it really depends on the gown and how extensive the work is, as every element of the dress is handmade — including the embroidery — here at the Houghton Atelier in West Chelsea, New York City. We usually ask for 16 weeks to create a custom gown, but I am always happy to work with my brides and be flexible with timing," said the designer. "Funny enough, my Houghton Brides seem to not be the type to start dress shopping one year in advance...I've had quite a few walk into the studio with their wedding less than eight weeks away! We can always do a rush order as long as we can import the fabric, and that it's possible to accomplish the hand-work and embroidery in time."
__Wearing a Houghton Bride dress feels just as good as it looks. __
When asked about her favorite fabrics to use when designing bridal gowns, Polk explained her emphasis on the importance of the inside of a garment. "Especially in bridal, a silk lining is so important — even if you can't see if from the outside, it is the layer closest to the body and feels amazing on the skin," said the designer. "A silk lining is what makes me want to wear something and never take it off."
In addition to her silk standards, the designer likes to explore with specialty fabrics (think sequin and lace) to infuse Houghton Bride with its signature unique character. "I love to experiment by incorporating special novelty fabrics into each collection, sourced from countries all over the world. I travel to Paris at least twice a year, and work with private mills in Switzerland and Italy — I also work closely with suppliers in India and London to find my hand-embroidered and beaded fabrics. Even though I source my fabrics from across the globe, I feel very strongly about producing ALL of Houghton's garments in NYC, at our Houghton Atelier."
Houghton has had a big year on the red carpet — including Lily Collins in custom Houghton, which inspired a look from the spring collection!
"When it comes to celebrity fashion on the red carpet, I love my Houghton Girls! Lizzy Caplan rocked my Blaze black lace guipure jumpsuit on the red carpet earlier this year, and Dascha Polanco wore the Claudia bias-cut silk gown from Houghton Bride SS15 to her Orange is the New Black premiere," said the designer. "Our crop tops have been popping up everywhere, too, which I love — most recently on Kate Hudson, Emma Roberts and Jessica Alba. One of my most favorite red carpet moments was the custom look we created for Lily Collins for her Madrid premiere of Mortal Instruments," said the designer. "I loved it so much it actually became inspiration for the Chloe top and Cameron skirt from the Houghton Bride SS15 Collection."
Ready for this? Houghton Bride is now available online, at the brand's newly launched e-commerce boutique, and it's full of chic inspiration for your wedding day look.
When asked about what drove the decision to launch e-commerce, the designer explained, "I felt that it was time for the brand. We get so many inquiries from all over the world for both collections (ready-to-wear and bridal), and I wanted to make the information more readily available. I also really wanted to showcase the range of price points offered by Houghton Bride. We have simple silk pieces like our popular wide-leg Marsanne romper for $2,250 on one end, and elaborate hand-embroidered beaded gowns like our sexy metallic thread mesh Moss gown for $18,000 on the other. A lot of my Houghton girls also look at the Houghton ready-to-wear line for their bridal look...On the website, it's all in one place."