Are you a soon-to-be-bride looking to customize the wedding gown of your dreams? If so, meet Emily Kotarski. If you're lucky enough to live in Charleston, SC, you no longer have to travel to New York City to design the chic, modern gown you've fantasized about. Thanks to Emily Kotarski Bridal, brides can create a truly one-of-a-kind gown. From the silhouette to the fabric to the rich embellishments, each gown is a unique, gorgeous representation of the bride and her personality. I actually connected with Emily through e-mail and once I had a peak at her newest collection, I just knew I had to interview her and feature these show-stopping dresses. Even more exciting for us northern gals, Emily will be bringing some of her designs here to Pittsburgh for a trunk show at Glitter & Grit in Lawrenceville from August 10th through August 20th. This is definitely an event you won't want to miss!
1. Give us a little background on Emily Kotarski Bridal. Where did you go to school? Where did you work previously and how did you get started with your own business?
I have always known I wanted to pursue a career in fashion and have been sewing for as long as I can remember. Receiving an education in Fashion Design from Parsons The New School for Design in New York helped me to realize that my passion was in the couture/bridal side of the industry. After graduation, I continued on to work in the mass market side of the industry designing athletic wear, which paid the bills but did not fuel my love for bridal. Once a year hit, I realized I needed to start making my way to bridal and decided to work at a bridal boutique until I figured out where I fit in the bridal industry as a designer. Here I was working directly with brides and realized that there was a need for a customizable shopping experience and collection. By shopping Emily Kotarski Bridal the possibilities are endless. Any customizable changes that a bride may want to make in order to create the dress of her dreams are possible.
2. We know becoming an "Emily Kotarski Bride" is a truly unique and customized experience. Can you walk us through a little bit of the process from initial meeting to the final product?
When brides shop the Emily Kotarski Precious Metals Collection they are able to see a starting point of a couture gown with unique lace appliqué and fabric treatments. From there once they decide on the fabric and shape that they feel the most comfortable and flattering in, they are able to focus in on the shape of neckline and details that will complete the look. For example, if a bride tries on the Bowieite gown which has a ballet lace up back corset and tulle skirt with hand painted accents but decides she wants to change the bodice to a v-neck and add lace over the top that is absolutely possible! My main focus in business is that when it comes to bridal design, at the end of the day I want to make the gown that my clients love because I’m not the one walking down the aisle in it, they are!
3. Where does your design inspiration come from?
My design inspiration comes from any and everything! My education at Parsons taught me how to really find unique shapes and designs in the outside world and translate them into new trends and embellishments. The inspiration from the Precious Metals Collection came from a more French baroque inspired lace pattern that I fell in love with. From there this lace really morphed the collection into the metallic and artistic details that you see in the collection.
4. How would you describe the "Emily Kotarski" bride?
The Emily Kotarski Bride would have a very clear vision of what she sees herself in on her wedding day. She is willing to push the boundaries of what is “trendy” and stay true to her style and vision. She is both classic with a unique twist and isn’t afraid to rock a cathedral length cape on her wedding day instead of a veil! But, if a veil is what she has always dreamed of, the longer the better, because Emily Kotarski bride’s are showstoppers!
5. What do you see as some of the big trends in bridal gown design?
I see capes as a huge emerging trend in bridal! They were all over the runway during spring bridal week. Also the a-line ballgown skirt is a trend I am seeing over the traditional full and ruched waistline. This shape can still give the effect of a big ballgown but with a smoother and more flattering line at the waist.
6. We're so excited that you will be doing a trunk show at Glitter & Grit this August. What type of gowns can brides expect to see?
I am so excited as well to have my gowns available for the brides of Pittsburgh! Brides can expect to see the couture gowns from my newest collection as well as a few sneak peak styles into the beginnings of my newest 2018 collection! The silhouettes are classic with modern embellishments and accents such as off-the-shoulder necklines and hand painted chiffon details.
7. What's been your greatest success or biggest compliment so far?
So far, I think the biggest success has been the amazing features my gowns have received in Charleston Weddings Magazine as well as other nationwide publications such as Dear Grey. Seeing the two page spread of my couture, jade colored gown in Charleston Weddings was an amazing feeling and then the following issue one of my bodices was on the cover which was even better! The absolute biggest compliments I receive though are when brides decide to purchase an Emily Kotarski gown for their big day and trust that with me, their vision will come to life exactly how they pictured! Receiving the beautiful photos from my real brides in their gorgeous custom gowns give me such joy every time!
8. Can you give us a starting price point for your custom gowns?
The starting price point for my gowns are around $2,500 and go up from there depending on the custom changes made to the gown or amount of embellishment to the styles. During the trunk show at Glitter & Grit brides are able to shop the gowns with a 10% off incentive during the week of the show!
9. We like to ask all of the wedding pros we interview this question: If someone is thinking about taking the leap and starting his or her own business, what advice would you offer?
I think the best advice I ever received was go where you think you are needed to start your business. I was living in New York, then moved to Philadelphia before I decided to move to Charleston for the launch of my collection. A lot of people ask me, why Charleston? It was the best choice I ever made for my business to move because the wedding industry and amount of brides in the beautiful southern city is huge! Brides are often excited at the ability to customize their gowns directly with the designer due to the fact that usually this service is only available in New York!
Emily was gracious enough to share some breath-taking images from her newest collection, Precious Metals. I had a tremendously hard time narrowing down the photos as each dress is so stunning and unique. Luckily, who doesn't love scrolling gorgeous wedding dress photos?! Enjoy the photos and Pittsburghers be sure to visit Glitter & Grit from August 10th through the 20th to see Emily's beautiful work up close.
I literally cannot stop staring at the details in this gorgeous gown. This is how you do a bridal cape.
Guys - I'm not even sure where to start with this dress! The color, the lace, the intricate details executed to perfection - I am completely obsessed!
The sleeves on this stunner get all the heart eyes! Again, the attention to detail is just incredible.
This neckline speaks for itself!
With all of Emily's dresses, you think the front is stunning - and then you see the back!
It's all in the details! Each dress is hand-made so it's truly one-of-a-kind.
The talented pros behind this gorgeous shoot:
Dresses - Emily Kotarski Bridal | @emilykotarskibridal
Photographer - Clay Austin Photography | @clayaustin
Design Coordinator - The Petal Report | @thepetalreport
Venue - The Governor Thomas Bennett House | @govthomasbennetthouse
Florals - Wimberly Fair Designs | @wimberlyfair
Hair and Makeup - Pampered and Pretty | @pamperedandprettyxo
Model - Christina Zapolski | @christinazapolski