A Word With Houghton Bride Designer Katharine Polk

There's no question that choosing a wedding dress is one of the most stressful aspects of getting hitched. The fear of "choosing the wrong one," and all the surrounding expectations (internal and external) can make a girl's hair fall out. I even purchased a used Jenny Packham dress that I thought was "the one," until I changed my mind a few weeks later. 

I went to Houghton in search of a long-sleeve lace wedding gown. I was enamored with Katharine's designs, but what sold me on a Houghton gown was Katharine's down-to-earth approach. She personally worked with me on finding a look that would work for me and my budget. She wasn't pushing gowns one me or playing any games. And best of all, it felt like hanging out with the new girl you want to be your best friend.

Katharine and her bulldog Jonesy, who is always in the studio.

Katharine and her bulldog Jonesy, who is always in the studio.

Why wedding dresses? Did you always know you wanted to design wedding dresses?

Definitely NOT! It was something that just happened. I had been styling for a while and was in my late 20’s. A lot of my friends were starting to get engaged and had nowhere to shop. I came up with the idea because there was nothing for my girls to wear. It wasn't just girls my age and who were like minded, but also women in their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s who might be on their 2nd marriage, or who waited until later in life to get married. Sometimes it was two women getting married––basically anyone who wasn't “Daddy’s little girl." I saw that there wasn’t a brand that had a Designer RTW aesthetic for the bridal ceremony, so I created it! We needed somewhere to shop that didn't make us feel uncomfortable. Somewhere that was cool, a place that was no different from everywhere else we wanted to shop. Why should this experience be painful all of a sudden?

What I love about your designs is that each collection is so different from the next, and within every collection, there is a wide variety of styles. Where do you find your inspirations?

As of 2016 I have honed in on Bridal and who our Bride is. We know who she is and I want to make sure I am giving her everything she needs for that wedding weekend. I think that I take more risks when it comes to “Bridal Week” shows, but when it comes down to it, Houghton is about our classic styles like our “Cheyne” and “Katharine” Suit, which is the first gown I designed back in 2011. It sounds cliché, but I find inspiration everywhere I go--always looking at how people dress and how I can translate that to “Bridal." 

I find inspiration when I’m in another country, at brunch people-watching in NYC, or just tweaking the Houghton classics to expand on styles that are best sellers. I love the process in particular, fitting in the studio, trying things on, draping and making styles that have Houghton DNA better, and making them evolve into what I call Houghton 2.0 styles.

How would you describe the Houghton Girl in 5 words?

Sexy, Romantic, Unconventional, Fun, and Irreverent.

What’s your favorite part of this job?

Creating.

What’s the most stressful part of your job?

Running a business.

Any advice to brides on how to find the perfect wedding look?

Don’t get too many opinions. Your’s is the only one that matters.