Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The House of Kat Swank

The designer - Kat Swank 
(wearing ENVY headdress custom designed for Coutney Love)
Kat Swank is the Headmistress of headbands and unique headdresses. Her fabulous feathered creations also extend into wristlets, belts, cuffs, chokers and caplets. She has created her brand in 2009 based on her love of the past and her visions of the present. She mixes her high end materials, old and new to create some of the most amazing pieces that I have ever seen or had the pleasure of wearing (see image below)! Many of the pieces are custom made for her clients, which I adore!

What I love about her pieces is that they are unique, custom, a collision of fashions past and current fantasy AND that many of them are multi-functional, designed to be worn several ways! She specializes in pieces that can be worn on your wedding day and be styled into your regular wardrobe, for events, cocktails or just because you are fabulous!

Her work has made it's way into several mag's, books and blogs like; The first issue of LOVE UK, Rolling Stone, SPIN Magazine, Relapse and in the book The Goddess Guide 2: The Goddess Experience by Giselle Scanlon. and Love My Dress Wedding Blog. After a recent hiatus she has collected her creative energies and is BACK!

 SPIN - March 2010 - Courtney Love Wearing a custom Kat Swank Headpiece & Her 5-in-1 Swanky wristlet

Kat and I chatted about her designs and her business recently,

 LISA: Who and what inspires you? and your designs?

KAT: Many things inspire me- antique & vintage clothing from the 20's-40's, mourning garments covered in antique jet beads from the late 1800's, images of silent film stars and old Hollywood glamour, big name houses & designers like Dior, Elie Saab (be still my heart- I LOVE HIM), Zuhair Murad, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Marchesa. There's nothing better for an artist than a good muse: Daphne Guinness, Isabella Blow, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin, Lucia Santos, Zelda Fitzgerald. My 5 year old daughter is an inspiration to me in the way that she wears what she wants, when she wants, and feels wonderful doing it!
Model wearing taxidermy Sparrow Headdress (SOLD)

Basically, I'm a very visual person, and I tend to react most emotionally to things that are old and beautiful. I really gravitate towards the quality and texture of handmade antique garments, accessories, furniture and even old houses. I love taking something vintage or antique that's a little beat up, disassembling it and reassembling it into something new, current and functional.

 LISA: Explain your design process

KAT: My design process is very organic. Sometimes my inspiration comes strictly from the colors and the textures of the materials themselves. Other times I'm inspired by the person whom I'm designing for. I particularly love custom work for brides and for editorial for that very reason. I spend time on pinterest and flipping through fashion mags for inspiration. 

LISA: Who is the Kat Swank Client?

KAT: So far, The House of Kat Swank client has varied! I create one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces, so I cater to the discerning, unique woman who appreciates art and heirloom quality couture. Currently the bulk of my business is bespoke bridal. I've also created several pieces for Courtney Love of the band Hole,
Magenta Madness" Headdress

 I made a fantastic headdress for Florence of Florence & The Machine (I'm still waiting to see her wear it in the press). 
Courtney Love Wearing House of Kat Swank in Milan with  Designer Roberto Cavalli

LISA: What are your plans for the KS brand?

KAT: I lost my little brother David tragically in Dec. 2010, so I really had to take a break after that and focus on family for awhile. I didn't stop working completely on The House of Kat Swank, but I certainly slowed things to a crawl and took time to heal. During that hiatus I helped to launch a nonprofit for Veterans who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) from the recent wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. My brother suffered from PTS from his time in the Army, serving in Iraq, and unfortunately he came back from the war in body, but not in spirit. He never recovered from what he saw and did over there. I took a break from the business in order to focus on healing and to help other veterans and families of veterans who are struggling with similar ordeals. Also, I'm a single mompreneur! So I've been working to achieve balance over the past 2 years, and I've now reached a point where I'm ready to focus all of my creative energy on The House of Kat Swank! Currently I'm preparing to launch a new line in 2014. I'm working with someone locally who will be taking some of the business and marketing side of The House off of my back, which will allow me to devote the bulk of my time and energy on the creative process.

LISA:  If you had one piece of style advice for my readers what would it be?

KAT: My biggest and best advice is just to go with what feels good to you. Originally being from a small, Midwestern town outside of Chicago, I spent many, many years battling my desire to be unique against the desire to fit in with the crowd. At this point in life I'm happy to say that I wear what I want, when I want! Focus on creating your own sense of style rather than being a slave to transient fashion. One of my favorite style icons to watch is Daphne Guinness, and there's a quote of hers that comes to mind, "In this world, just to be yourself, that's the true luxury". Just be yourself!



  1. Kat is my daughter and I am very proud of her. Her work is not only beautiful but timeless. Every woman(no matter what her age) should have at least one item that when she puts it on she feels wonderful, beautiful and free of spirit.