Stories like these are exactly the reason we started this Meet-the-Maker series. We've always been passionate about small businesses, shopping local, and supporting your community. But these makers - the ones that use their hands to craft, sew, paint, build, weld... the ones with stories to tell and who want to create heirlooms to be passed down to future generations... they're the ones that inspire us to no end. Katherine Bignon, a custom wedding gown and lingerie designer in NYC, is one of those true artists whose story we're honored to feature.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOU!
Hi there!! I’m Katherine, wife to a handsome Frenchman (I had only written Frenchman, but he was reading over my shoulder while I wrote this and wanted to make sure the handsome part was added in!!), mama to three bilingual babies 3 and under, and a bridal gown + lingerie + tulle skirt designer! We live on the outskirts of New York City, where I design custom pieces for my brides out of a studio in our home. My mom actually taught me to sew ages ago, and it stuck! She made all of my clothes when I was little, and so I grew up with an intense love for fabric and shiny scissors! She made her own wedding gown, and there’s this gorgeous picture of her and my dad on their wedding day hanging at the end of the hallway in their house. I walked past it every day growing up, and honestly I think that’s the reason I ended up making wedding gowns. I always wanted a marriage just like hers, and since the story always started with her making her own gown, I figured that’s where I should start too!! (Disclaimer: I did not end up making my own wedding gown, I bought the first one I tried on… oops! But now I get to design heirloom gowns for my brides and it’s my little way of sending them off into a beautiful marriage!) I studied lingerie design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and one day a dear friend asked me to branch out into tulle skirts as well, so it’s been a lovely little adventure to launch a full service studio for custom design to brides!
WHAT DO YOU SPECIALIZE IN?
My heart is designing custom heirloom bridal gowns. The kind that she’ll save and cherish, and one day her daughter will beg to be able to try on and hear the story one more time. Along with the custom gowns, I design silk robes, and honeymoon trousseaux, as well as loads of colorful tulle skirts for bridesmaids, bridal showers, and rehearsals!
WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS UNIQUE?
I don’t simply design wedding gowns, I design them unique to each bride. I get to know her, I listen to her love story, and get a sense of her style and aesthetic, and then I design a gown that was intended to be worn only by her. The gowns I create have a classic yet modern and feminine feel to them, and they each contain a nod to the things that inspire me as a designer and honestly, I just love finding the point where my inspiration meets her aesthetic + story, and watching the magic unfold!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF WORKING WITH BRIDES?
Oh gosh, I think I would have to say it’s that moment where she slips the gown on for the first fitting, and suddenly her eyes light up and she squeals a little when she realizes it’s real! Before that moment, we had only worked in illustrations and ideas, but suddenly the gown is real, and she envisions herself as a bride for the first time. It’s so much fun to watch!
ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR COUPLES?
Let’s see… I’d have to say: take a deep breath, relax, and remember to laugh. There’s always something that doesn’t go as planned (we have a few from our wedding!!), but choose to laugh about it instead of stress, and it’ll make all the difference!
CHILDHOOD CAREER ASPIRATION?
I drove my parents crazy with this one!! It changed like every five minutes, but the major ones that I kept bouncing back and forth between were: professional ballet dancer, fashion designer, and, wait for it… a Russian linguist for the Navy. I even went on a college visit to the Naval Academy!!
COFFEE OR TEA?
Tea. Every morning. Looseleaf in a pot, with milk, no sugar, and a china cup! It’s a habit I picked up when I lived in France, and it’s still my favorite part of the morning! And my French in-laws taught me how to enjoy a perfect shot of espresso in the afternoon!
I’m a master parallel parker. And I still get a crazy sense of satisfaction every time I get our SUV into a spot on the first try and my husband’s mouth is hanging open!!
Participating Vendors: Abby Grace Photography (all photography in this post)