(Wedding) Dress For The Job You Want
Katherine Bignon ‘07 is an FCS graduate, and now a bridal designer based just outside of NYC. Her world appears, in a word, dreamy. She and her french husband and three bilingual children live in a beautiful vintage home on the outskirts of New York City, which is also the home base for her bridal design business.“I studied Intimate Apparel and Couture Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and launched my own small brand shortly after graduating. I spend my days designing custom heirloom wedding dresses for the sweetest brides from a studio upstairs in our house, with toddlers playing at my feet, and a pot of tea constantly by my side.” She’s a big fan of red lipstick, high-waisted jeans, and hand-crafted french pastries.
Katherine grew up at Fredericksburg Christian School, spending her education from kindergarten to senior year ensconced by its beautiful halls. “FCS simultaneously feels like yesterday, and ages ago. I really can’t imagine having been anywhere else. So much so that I really dragged my feet finding a school for our kids where we live now, because there was a part of me that was still dreaming we would end up back in Fredericksburg one day so they could go to FCS like so many of my friend’s kids who stayed in town! It was such a great family to be a part of.”
After graduation, Katherine got to spend a year in France during what started as an FCS mission trip. It was there that she fell in love with French culture, French food, and even met her future husband. “That year in France shaped everything I’ve done since then, and FCS was the foundation that led me to have those opportunities. In terms of the level of academic education at FCS, it was phenomenal. But the thing that was so foundational and formative for me was the relationships, and the education that happened outside of the classroom.”
Katherine first caught the design bug when she saw the movie“Sweet Home Alabama” for the first time. She had been sewing since she was just a little girl. Her mother, grandmother, and great- aunts all made their own clothes, which was a huge inspiration. Katherine started making gowns for herself and for friends in high school, and then she was hooked.
The first wedding dress Katherine ever designed was a wedding gift for a dear friend. “I had never made one before, so I offered to make hers on a whim. She was brave enough to take me up on it! One of my professors let me stay late after classes, and he taught me how to work with bridal lace and helped me adjust the pattern to fit her perfectly. In the end, we settled on a lace fit and flare gown, with a scalloped neckline and a simple three quarter length sleeve. I added a bit of hand-beading, and sent her down the aisle.”
The reason Katherine chose to focus on wedding gowns is all in the family; her mom made her own wedding dress, and that gave her the first whiff of inspiration. “I knew that I really wanted to have a career that I loved, but have the ability to be home with my kids at the same time. Creating custom wedding gowns seemed like the perfect fit. I love knowing that the gown I’m designing will be an heirloom. It’s really incredible to be invited to be a part of someone’s story and legacy like that.”
But even the most picture-perfect career isn’t all pink macarons & lace. “Finding balance can be really hard! I work from home, while our kids, (who aren’t older than pre-k), play around me. Sometimes there are crazy late nights because I can’t get into the studio at all during ‘normal’ hours. But I wouldn’t change anything about our setup for the world, and I love that my first priority in this season gets to be staying home with our kids.”
All challenges aside, Katherine shared with us what the absolute best parts are about her dream job. “I’ve had some really incredible opportunities to travel in the past year or two and that has been so much fun! This past summer, I co-created and co- hosted a week-long destination workshop in France, and I’d have to say that that was one of the all-time highlights. We’re headed back this coming summer to do it again. And there’s really nothing much better than seeing the look on a bride’s face when the gown that she’s been dreaming about in her head all comes together, and she gets to slip into it for the first time; it’s magical.”