Katharine Story is a California fashion designer whose signature style, which evokes the bohemian elegance of her native Laguna Beach, has won worldwide acclaim. Favoring timeless, confident beauty over seasonal trends, the label balances bold, hand-dyed color with flowing, unstructured shapes that are ultimately defined by the wearer’s body.
Over the years and by way of private showings at her boutiques in Los Angeles and Laguna Beach, Story has become a treasured favorite among celebrities and other glitterati. They embrace the label for its power to reflect their confidence, worldliness and exhilaration for life.
The Katharine Story brand now appears in trunk shows across the US and in several of the world’s leading fashion boutiques. The label is also a yearly presence at Paris and New York fashion weeks and at the Miami Swim Show.
Story’s ready-to-wear collection features lace, chiffon, velvet, sequins and brocades imagined into kaftans and other classically flowing garments. The effect is femininity and sex appeal made only the more exquisite by a sense of intuition and exotic wisdom.
Her latest work, while hewing close to her roots, features leather fringe, accents of fur, and oversize, semiprecious stone and metal accessories – a luxurious blend of casbah and beach club, with a smoky hint of goth.
Story was born in Laguna Beach to a family of artisans. She spent her 20s in London and worked at Harvey Nichols while selling her own designs at Camden Market. Ever since, travel has been the inspiration for Story’s distinctive work.
Interview with Katharine Story x 33 Magazine
Describe your brand in few words.
International, effortless, bohemian, elegance
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I have always loved the fantasy of dressing, since I was very young, I aways wanted to be unique and express my own style. I started designing things for myself and other women commented and would ask me where they could find it for themselves, I started t think about how fulfilling and fun it would ben to design and dress this others.
How your brand’s mission evolved starting with your first collection?
The first piece designed was a kimono and and it still is thread and signature in all of my collections, I think my style has evolved over time as I have aged myself. I now have a more sophisticated look, still daring yet in a chic way.
In your experience, what are some of the other negative points regarding fashion design schools?
I am self taught – so I don’t have any direct experience with that other than some of the interns I have had work for me. One thing I have noticed, is although they have been taught skills to do things “correctly” that it takes the creative quality out of trying something thats never been done before. The magic that comes from making mistakes.
How sustainability can change fashion industry? Do you think we can see, in the next future, a positive change regarding sustainable design?
I have been reworking clothing for most of my career – I think that we are looking tat sustainability because we are looking at the world differently and realizing the impact of our choices and that not only that we can make a difference, but that we must.
In your opinion, will it be the consumer who will facilitate the change in the supply chain or will it be the design and manufacturing industry?
I think it will be the consumer. I think that the industry will just keep doing what they have always done until it is not supported. As a consumer new have more power than we realize, if threes something we dint support ethically we can change the future by not supporting and standing up where we can. A little at a time. As nan designer, although I have always used vintage elements in my designs, I am now also seeking out eco-friendly fabrics and shifting other parts of my business a bit at a time. And if we each do this a bit at a time and we see that it is making a difference, we then have a revolution!
What should a customer expect when buying your brand? What drives your inspiration for your design?
You can expect to feel unique when wearing my designs. They are stand out pieces that allow you to express your uniqueness, be prepared to be asked where you got your outfit from! Be prepared to feel the energy and love that I put in my designs. And when you feel this way you are contagious and the world shifts a bit.
What was the biggest challenge for you as a designer?
One of the biggest things that drives me is travel. I love thinking about where I am going and what girl I want to be! A goddess? A rockstar? A blond beach princess flying on my iridescent dragon? Also, my clients really drive me – I love seeing women in my boutique playing dress up and finding out all the things they really can wear, and then leaving with am piece that lights them up! It is really rewarding. And then seeing how they evolve and make the look their own.