Katharine Polk has been designing Women’s Evening-wear and Couture Bridal since she graduated with a degree in Fashion Design from FIDM in Los Angeles. She moved to New York in 2006 to work for Badgley Mischka Couture as an assistant designer. Polk then became a Fashion Editor and stylist based in New York City. She missed the creative process and designing and had the concept for Houghton which launched Houghton in 2011. Polk went on to be a 3 time FGI nominee and a St Louis Fashion Fund Caleres Group winner in 2015.

Katharine, a multi-hyphenate also runs a successful consulting company that has a client list that ranges from large brands such as BHLDN to start-ups in the tech sector. Polk consults from Creative Direction, Design, Fashion Business Strategy and most commonly helps young entrepreneurs create a business plan and budget to start their fashion brand and find factories and create a well-merchandised collection.

In 2021 Polk bought back her brand Houghton and is now leading it as CEO and Creative Director in a new direction focused on Direct to Consumer sales with a focus on inclusivity with Bridal for everyBODY.

Get to Know Katharine

Dia: What led you to start your own line?

KP: In 2010 there was no place for women to shop for wedding gowns that was a modern and Ready To Wear experience. My friends were getting engaged and didn’t want a traditional ball gown so I created HOUGHTON, a brand that would offer a selection of Ready-to-Wear you could get married in. We offered suits, separates, cocktail dresses, and gowns. It was truly a collection from the ‘Altar to the Afterparty’ that was and is ‘Bridal for everyBODY’.

Dia: How would you describe your style?

KP: Houghton is modern yet classic and sexy yet romantic. My personal style is quite eclectic… Most of the time in baggy jeans and menswear but I do love getting dressed up and wearing gowns to dinner. I’m always up for a black-tie theme. My motto is you can never be overdressed.

Dia: What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

KP: It’s hard to pinpoint one…

There have been some huge milestones since 2010 but being able to buy my brand back in 2021 and re-launch Houghton was a dream come true.

Seeing my design on billboards across America on Khloe Kardashian was incredibly emotional and definitely a pinch-me moment.

Seeing my designs on the red carpet of The Oscars, MTV Awards and Emmys is always emotional after putting so much work in and seeing it pay off.

It was small, but the first press feature in The Knot after buying my brand back made me cry. After all the ups and downs and being featured so many times that was the first piece of recognition after reclaiming my brand and self-funding the relaunch. That was major for me.

Dia: What styles are your favorite in this new collection?

KP: The Harper is a classic! I just made one for myself in black lace and didn’t want to take her off. The Lulu is also such a great gown. You get 4 looks in one. She has a corseted crepe column gown and then has an organza detachable skirt and an organza detachable train. For $4500 you get so many options and can wear a different version to each event of your wedding.

The Minis have been super popular as second looks so we included a few and they’re really fun and customizable. Every style is offered in sizes 00-30+ and I really try to create collections that are flattering and beautiful on everyBODY.

Dia: What are you excited to add to your wardrobe this year?

KP: Latex and Chantilly black lace! I’m really dying to make more latex looks in fun colors. It’s so comfortable and you feel so sexy when you have on some latex! I also just made myself 6 of my 3-piece suits to use as my uniform for meetings and work. Can’t wait to make more versions! Always a mix of Menswear and something sexy.

Dia: What do you want to see from fashion/bridal in the next 5 years?

KP: That’s a big question but obviously more inclusivity. We love including all size, color and gender models in our collections but we are still in the minority. I would love to see more acceptance of plus size and trans models in bridal campaigns.

I think design wise there has been huge growth and acceptance in terms of making bridal cool but we need to continue to push boundaries.

Dia: Who is your dream bride? Someone you are dying to design for?

KP: I would love to dress Lizzo, Doja Cat and Ashley Graham (again). There are so many gorgeous women to dress and we love collaborating with them!

Dia: How did the Khloe dress come about?

KP: I created 2 looks in collaboration with Khloe Kardashian’s stylist. The event we created it for got pushed and I kind of lost faith she would wear the looks. Months later I got a text from her amazing stylist that Khloe loved the dress and she was wearing it for the opening title sequence and marketing photos for the new Kardashian Hulu show. It was better than I could have ever dreamed. Seeing my design on billboards across America was definitely a milestone and proud moment, to say the least. The dress is literal magic and looks amazing on size XS or 3X which is why we decided to carry stock so we could make her affordable at $995 and ready to ship for our clients. You can have her in 24hrs!

Dia: What inspires your designs?

KP: There is a mix of creative/editorial pieces that I look to my muses for inspiration. The brand is actually named after my namesake Katharine HOUGHTON Hepburn. I am endlessly inspired by her affinity for menswear. She broke boundaries, was beautiful and strong while not taking anything from anyone. Katharine is an endless source of inspiration for me. I have had the ‘Katharine” Suit featured in every collection since 2011 and continue to create new iterations. Our Suits are super popular! 

I also look to our real brides and clients and try to listen to what we’re missing and what they are wanting. That gives me some great insight into how to make corrections or update styles that can be better. Working with top stylists to create amazing red-carpet looks is also inspirational and often ends up on the collection.

Dia: What do you love about 11 Honoré | Dia&Co integrating and becoming the premier destination for plus fashion?

KP: I think it’s amazing and can’t wait to get our brand in the hands of 11 Honore/ Dia and Co. shoppers. Our XL-3X size looks are our best-selling sizes and I hear from our clients daily how hard it is to find designer collections in their size. We are proud to be featured on the website and think it’s extremely important.

Shop Houghton NYC

Shop the Houghton NYC Collection or visit The Wedding Suite to find the plus-size wedding dress or best dressed guest look of your dreams.

About Houghton "We are proud to be made and designed in Los Angeles and work with the best sewers and pattern makers to create sustainable ethically made collections. Being based in LA also gives us the opportunity to be nimble and have some of the fastest turnaround times for a couture handmade collection. We can create custom looks in days which comes in handy for our last-minute brides! We are so proud to offer every style in sizes 00-30+ and customize any look for our brides."