By Daniela Degrassi

 

Planning The Luxe and Kind Bridal Boutique event was quite a journey. What I will remember most dearly is the opportunity it gave me to connect with so many exceptional wedding professionals. One of them is certainly Colleen Bankovich, a woman of multi talents. Former fashion designer for Celia Grace, Colleen is also the founder of Kata Banko Couture, creating stand out fair trade bridal accessories that we’ll be proudly showcasing at our upcoming vegan bridal fair in Los Angeles.

Inspired by love stories, these lovingly hand crafted accessories were designed to harness the soul-cleansing power of precious crystals and stones, blessing the love between star-crossed partners. The accessories’ transformative medium, from solid to sand, makes a perfect statement on the day of this month’s passionate new moon – and of course, a bride’s wedding day.

Kata Banko unique jewelry features textures of fine and coarse grain sand in moonstone, amazonite, garnet, and other precious and powerful gemstones. These materials give each accessory an authentically raw quality, and mesmerizing texture. Custom metal stampings, cast in floral and leaf arrangements, serve as the base for these sands to come to life. These USA-made stampings imbue each piece with its signature Kata Banko Couture look.

“When designing this collection, I kept my signature style of working with core components. I’ve continued to work with healing crystals and precious stones, but pioneered a new way of infusing them into my collection. The diversity in color and texture makes a beautiful statement at the ceremony of union; and continues to translate to wearable pieces beyond the wedding day. This collection is not world’s apart from what I’ve done before; it holds true to the core of who I am as an artist. I’ve simply just worked in new coating techniques. My bride appreciates craft and quality, and is in touch and in tune to the world around her. She loves beautiful things and is a free spirit. This bride is marrying the love of her life – that’s her only focus, and my biggest inspiration.” says Bankovich.

I asked Colleen what was the inspiration behind her business name and you better get some Kleenex handy before reading further: “Kata was my grandmother’s name, Banko is short for our last name. Kata came to America at age 13 to start a business and send money back to war torn Croatia to bring her family in USA. When she arrived she was promised to a much older man for marriage, she knew nothing about this. My grandmother was an innovator, she was extremely talented, she made clothing and was an avid knitter, the beautiful maxi sweaters we see today, she was creating these styles in the early 1900s. Eight children later and two marriages in, she and my grandfather bought a lot of property and transformed it into a working farm. During the great depression, they did their part to share their crops with those who had no food. She never retained US citizenship, nor did she ever fully learn to speak English. When I started designing in the early 2000, I was creating evening and resort looks and saw it fitting to name my brand after her. She was never able to see her life how she imagined, I thought I would try for her. Years later a friend of mine opened a bridal salon and I helped out, there was a need for bridal accessories and I took that opportunity to jump right in carrying over the name Kata Banko Couture.”

Now Kata Banko fans are on pins and needles because Colleen is currently working on a new fair trade bridal collection, what she describes as the roll out of Celia Grace evolution. In contrast to Celia Grace’s somewhat traditional aesthetic, her new brand BOHYNE will have more versatility and options for brides and beyond. Expect plays of color and cut, taking fair trade bridal fashion to the next level in style and sophistication. This isn’t your momma’s crunchy bridal brand. Colleen’s shares with us her inspiration behind her new adventure:

“Bohyne came about in late 2018, after designing the 2019 Wild Wood collection for Celia Grace Wedding Dresses. In the design process I had the opportunity to really see the lack of thoughtfulness in the bridal industry. I work closely with Fair Trade Co-ops and through that came a plethora of the use of natural, organic and dead stock fabrics. I’ve always been conscious to the need for sustainability and ethical production, and it sparked a fire in me to continue this practice. In all honesty I haven’t been this excited in years, the reality of creating beautiful looks that can be re-worn and re-purposed after your wedding day is something that you don’t see in bridal fashion. Its a very fast fashion model and mostly unsustainable as well as extremely unethical. I want to change that in all areas. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, as far as silhouettes are concerned; I’m simply making it a beautiful experience for everyone involved. I’m looking forward to a slow fashion, ethical production, fair trade sustainable model. That’s where the name Bohyne comes in. Bohyne simply translates to Goddess, and I believe a Goddess is not only a beautiful term for women, a Goddess is also fierce and strong, she holds true to her love of the earth and the people on it, in some ways she is a warrior, and if we are going to make an impact in this exploitative and wasteful industry  we have got to be warriors.”

As a former bridal friendly fashion designer myself, I can only applaud and support Colleen’s big plans for taking the idea of bridal and beyond a step further by incorporating more Ready-To-Wear styles to her collection. The process in how these styles will be revealed is also new – and unlike any other bridal fashion line out there. Unlike the two-seasons-a-year design drop at New York Bridal Fashion Week and Bridal Market, Colleen will stay true to a sustainable model and release designs in slow drops. Starting this winter, new looks will drop through until March when the full collection will debut at a trunk show in Omaha with Noa Brides.

Colleen promises some of BOHYNE looks will be vegan friendly (the majority of fabrics she is working with are dead-stock of lace and bamboo, organic cottons, polyester and locally woven peace silks) so make sure you stay tuned on The Kind Bride because you know it, we’ll be first in line for the designs reveal this winter; and watch it unfold on Colleen’s new brand profile on Instagram.

For now, we welcome you to join us on September 8th to admire Kata Banko designs live while enjoying great vegan food and wine and connect with our prestigious line up of wedding professionals (not to mention our jaw-dropping raffle prizes and gift bags!) at the world’s fist vegan bridal fair and pop up! Got your ticket yet?

 

 

 

 

 

An incurable enthusiast and independent spirit since she could remember (her childhood heroines were Pippi Longstockings and Katharine Hepburn) Daniela Degrassi found her creative outlet as a lifestyle photographer, working mainly in Northern California. Currently splitting her time between SF Bay Area and her native Italy to continue to be her autistic sister’s primary caregiver. Vegan since 2014, she found a perfect way to carry her message of compassion while celebrating her love for the wedding industry launching The Kind Bride in February 2018.