Our good friend and fellow destination wedding planner, Lisa Light, did a wonderful interview with an up-an-coming special occasions designer, Katie Fong. We fell in love with Katie's work just like Lisa did, and you can see Fong's passion for her craft in her gorgeous garments.
Interview with Designer Katie Fong
::by Lisa light
As an event planner, I am always on the lookout for purveyors whose careers are their raison d'etre because my experience is that they are the ones who are the most creative and who consistently have the highest standards of excellence. I look for stationers who adore the way paper smells, looks and feels; chefs who make your mouth water when they describe the foods that they create; floral designers who talk about the language of flowers as though it is the core of their being; and, dress makers who exude a passion for different kinds of fabrics.
When Katie Fong told me about the laces, fabrics and techniques that she uses at her New York City studio the other day, I was instantly aware of the passion and attention to exacting detail that she has for her craft.
I immediately knew that Katie was a designer to watch and introduce to colleagues and clients.
LL: What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
KF: I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut where my family has owned a family-run dry cleaning establishment in the center of town since the mid-1950's. Even as a toddler, I started spending time at the company, and as the eldest child (my father is the eldest child of the first generation Chinese American) I was taught that it was important and expected to spend time there to learn about the details of the business. When I there I was surrounded by beautiful clothing from vintage Chanel to Valentino gowns. My family also played a huge part in my inspiration to become a designer. My father studied photography in college and has a passion for the arts and my mother would take me shopping to amazing stores in different parts of New York City and Greenwich. My grandmother also designed and made her own dresses and loved to watch Chinese soap operas and award shows with me.
LL: Were you formally trained in fashion design?
KF: Yes, I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and loved every minute of it. During that time I apprenticed at Oscar de La Renta for three years as well as Stella McCartney and Vera Wang.
LL: What inspires your designs?
KF: I have always been captivated by the 1950's when people used to dress up every day and luxury was the lifestyle. I love simple and beautiful silhouettes that are sewn in luxurious fabrics. I aspire to create dresses and coats that can be pulled out of the closet and worn seamlessly years from now and then passed on through generations. I also find inspiration in bridal couture techniques and lingerie fabrications and finishes. There is something so elegant and alluring about wedding gowns and lingerie, I think that women should embrace these styles in their daily ready-to-wear wardrobes.
LL: Do you have a favorite current fashion trend?
KF: Statement coats and jackets.
LL: What is your favorite color or color combination?
KF: In the summer time, I love ivory. It is so clean and refreshing to the eye. I also like pops of color like a deep turquoise or coral red. In the fall and winter, my favorite colors are deep rich tones, such as hunter green, deep navy and any shade of grey.
LL: What designers inspire you?
KF: I am inspired by House of Christian Dior's collections from the 1950's and Oscar de la Renta with whom I had the privilege of working. Mr. de la Renta has an amazing eye for color and embroidery and his passion for his work is incredible.
LL: Do you have a favorite fabric that you like to use in your collections?
KF: Four ply satin-faced silk crepe. It has a beautiful weight, feels luxurious and drapes in a way that is seamlessly elegant.
LL: Do you have a favorite design in your collection?
KF: The ivory silk chiffon trapunto embroidered dress and jacket from our Spring 2104 Collection.
LL: In your opinion, what are your greatest moments or accomplishments personally and professionally?
KF: My greatest moments are when I see a client in the final fitting for a made to measure garment. Personally and professionally, it makes me so happy to see a client, who is thrilled to wear a Katie Fong creation. There are many thoughts and a lot of time dedication from the Katie Fong team that go into each and every project.
LL: In your opinion, what sets you apart from other women's fine apparel designers?
KF: At Katie Fong, we strive to create simply beautiful, timeless garments with couture finishings that are reasonably priced. Our embroidery designs are conceived to be subtle as well as dramatic. We try to emphasize the fabrics that we choose by designing relatively simple silhouettes, providing balance in eveningwear in comparison to heavily beaded gowns and uncomfortable corsetry.
LL: What are your goals and what is on your professional bucket list?
KF: My goal as a Creative Director and CEO is to grow not only a successful company, but a happy one. Having a dedicated and passionate team who believes in the brand really shows through the developed product. Our goal is to keep our clients happy and to provide the best we can so that they will want to come back, whether it is by themselves, or with their daughter or granddaughter. On the creative end, I would love to have lingerie collaboration and a bridal collection one day.