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.
A conversation with Katharine Story for Trend Privé Magazine
TPM: When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
I knew I wanted to be a designer when I was living in London in my 20’s. It was the 80’s and so much energy, such a contrast to where I had grown up in southern California. I just loved that their were so many young designers doing their designs and not thinking about doing a business plan, but really living and doing it for the creativity of it.
TPM: When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
I was never an intern. I started with a machine and just went for it, selling in Camden Market in London. Once I actually went for an interview at Vivian Westwood, I didn’t get the job, but it didn’t stop me, I instead went to work at Harvey Nichols and ended up in the buying office, a very eye opening experience watching young designers navigate through the corporate world. Between seeing my own things at Camden Market and working for Harvey Niks I was on my way up…. But homesickness got the best of me and I headed back to California
TPM: What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
I never went to college. I worked in retail, moving my way to manager in most of the jobs I held. That is why having a boutique is very natural to me, I have owned boutiques for over 20 years and have done pop-up boutiques all over the world.
TPM: Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in few words .
Sustainable fashion – the NEW LUXURY. Its the future for conscious individuals. As a designer I have worked with sustainable fabrics and vintage clothing since the beginning, reworking things and using vintage embellishments. I am now looking into eco friendly fabrics, and making the changes where I can.
TPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Have no fear and all your dreams are real, otherwise you wouldn’t have them.
TPM: What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
Having pieces made when I wasn’t 100% sure on the sample.
TPM: What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?
TPM: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media is an amazing tool to show who and what your brand is, what its represents. I think its amazing to be exposed too so many people and exciting to be able to get feedback from so many people.
TPM: What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?
I love the creative minds and seeing what others are doing, and also how technology keeps us evolving – I don’t like the mass production part and the big ammounts of clothing in department stores.
TPM: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
I want them to feel special, to express their uniqueness, to wear my pieces in their own individual way – to make it their own look.
TPM: Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?
I think I fill in a gap for women to have a comfortable and timeless wardrobe, go to pieces that they know are still current, and that they look and feel beautiful in. I also love how a 60 years old woman can walk into my boutique and put the same piece on a 20 years old just tried on and see how they are both beautifully amazing in it.
TPM: News on the way regarding your next collection?
My next collection! I was in Morroco recently and I love the layers of fabrics and pieces and colors on top of everything, the saffrons and other vibrant desert colors. I think that I will definitely have some of this flavor in my next collection, and yet to tie it into beaded bustiers, shear embroidered kaftans and harem pants!