Charleston is known for it’s culture, hospitality, food, and much more – including fashion. You have seen designer Emily Kotarski gowns gracing the pages of bridal magazines and wedding blogs galore, now go behind the scenes with Emily and her latest “Dreams” collection. We sat down with the Charleston-based bridal couture designer to get an insider’s glimpse at the inspiration behind her signature silhouettes.
What led you to leave the corporate side of the wedding world to launch your own line of bridal gowns?
When I was working in the more corporate side of the industry, brides would continuously come to me asking if they could take the bottom of a gown and mix it with the bodice of another. This is when I realized that in the bridal industry there wasn’t as many options for brides to customize their own gowns. Having a design background from Parsons – this realization is what I needed in order to propel my determination and love of design into my own collection.
You just launched your latest collection. What was the inspiration behind your designs?
The “Dreams” collection was inspired by Rock and Roll from the 70s, specifically Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac. I was looking for a way to take the bohemian trend to the next level in a more elevated and chic way.
Can brides select a gown directly from the collection or is every Emily Kotarski gown customized for each client?
Brides could either shop in the studio by selecting one of our couture gowns from the collection, or choose to customize a design of their own. Most of the time, brides will use the gowns in my collections as a jumping off or starting point for their own design and then make changes to make it their own, one-of-a-kind look. I love creating something new and special for each bride because it keeps each dress unique to every individual style!
What is your favorite part of designing gowns?
The delicate, couture details of placing the lace and embroidery and hand sewing it all down is my favorite part! The base of a gown is like a blank canvas and from there, I love when I am able to artfully place a beautiful French lace applique to turn the gown into a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
When brides-to-be begin the process of designing their dream dress with you, what is your best advice for them?
The most important piece of advice I give to all my brides is to make sure you are comfortable in the design of your gown. You are in the dress for a long time and throughout the day it is important for it to feel as comfortable and confident as possible!
Typically, how long does designing a custom gown take? What is your recommendation to clients in terms of how far in advance of their wedding date they should start the process?
The average time of designing a dress is typically 6-9 months comfortably. In some cases, depending on the style and detail of the gown, I can work with a bride on a rush order between 3-6 months. But, as always, a little more time to really focus in on the details of the gown is preferable and a good year from the time of placing the order to wedding date is when most brides plan on booking.
What are 3 words you would use to describe your designs?
Feminine, innovative and comfortable. I take pride in chasing the newest trends and always striving to create new and unique looks. My greatest achievement in making each gown is when my clients tell me that they were comfortable all day long in their gown.
What is an interesting fact about you that many people would not know?
I am a die hard Green Bay Packer fan and NFL enthusiast! In the fall, on Sundays you can most likely find me watching football while hand sewing lace.
Charleston Wedding Guide Preferred Vendors
Gowns: Emily Kotarski | Venue: The Cedar Room | Rentals: 428 Main
Lighting: Technical Event Company | Makeup: Makeup By Jami
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Photographer: Clay Austin | Creative Director: The Petal Report | Videography: Branches Wedding Co | Moped: Port City Moped | Hairpieces: Emma Katzka Bridal | Hair: Wild Ivory Beauty | Florals: Wimberly Fair