Fashion designer Katie Ermilio began designing at the young age of 12, inspired by her family's fashion lineage. The designer's grandfather was the personal clothier to Grace Kelly, and his work inspires the classic shapes she continues to reference each season. The ready-to-wear designer is known for her elevated, flirty aesthetic, and her whimsically flattering dresses have become a go-to for fashion-conscious brides. We caught up with the designer as she put the finishing touches on a custom bridal gown for her best friend, to learn about her inspiration process and her favorite bridal style.
Like the best designers, Katie Ermilio is constantly looking for inspiration, and finding it.
"My design process is something that I don't think I ever fully turn off," said the designer, when we asked about her creative process each season. "I never know when inspiration will find me, or when I will see something that I draw inspiration from. I always keep my eyes wide open, and find it helpful to have a sketchbook on my nightstand. Sometimes the best ideas come in the early hours of the morning or late at night. I am constantly designing. I begin each collection by jumping-in and creating the first piece and it is from the origin of that first look that I bring the collection together, much like building a wardrobe."
Photo: Courtesy of Katie Ermilio
Ermilio started her collection designing for private clients, which continues today in her bridal business.
"When I first started designing, I was doing so for a private clientele," said Ermilio. "I think that's why my collections, for better or worse, are so specific. Working intimately with clients one-on-one keeps me connected to why I became a designer, for the women who wear my clothes. The custom design process is unique to each of my clients."
Do women purchase gowns from her ready-to-wear collection for their weddings?
Absolutely. "My design aesthetic has maintained it's minimal and feminine quality with each collection, and that continues to remain something that resonates strongly with modern brides. I find it incredibly exciting as a designer that women are able to envision themselves in my gowns in shades of white on their wedding day."
Brides are one of the designer's favorite sources of inspiration.
While Ermilio is not directly inspired by bridal fashion, she is definitely inspired by the woman who search for it for their big day. "There's a distinct femininity ever-present in my work which just happens to go hand-in-hand with bridal. Brides are some of my favorite clients though because I get to become part of the biggest day of their life and it's so personal and special."
Photo: Courtesy of Katie Ermilio
__Katie Ermilio's favorite bridal trends? Relaxed elegance — think Sofia Coppola and Audrey Hepburn. __
We asked the designer about her favorite bridal trends, and she explained her take on bridal style. "For me, it's about relaxed style that still maintains a crisp and tailored feel that you can wear forever. I want to make the kinds of dresses women want to wear and feel beautiful in throughout all of the days, parties, toasts, and celebrations surrounding the big day." Her favorite red carpet style star? "Sofia Coppola. She always looks beautiful, and like herself. My favorite bride of all time is definitely Audrey Hepburn as Jo Stockton in Funny Face."
Her dream client to dress? Her best friend.
"I'm currently putting the finishing touches on the gown that my best friend Lauren will wear down the aisle later this month. I was honored and humbled when Lauren asked me to design her gown, and working with her to bring her dream dress to life has been one of the most special commissions of my career. Lauren brought so much to the design process, and also completely put herself in my hands. I'd love to go into describing the silhouette of her gown, the veil, the train — but the groom has not seen her yet! But I will be sure to report back after he has."