002 Houston - February 2006

002_june2008Having a Ball
By Tim Maloney

“I’ve always been interested in combining unusual materials, pinning them in different ways, to make clothes that are unlike anything else you’re going to see,” says Junko Yoshioka, the celebrated bridal gown designer of Bonaparte-NY.

And How! Her avant garde creations, offering sweeping silhouettes, asymmetrical cuts and carefully juxtaposed materials, have been featured in In Style, WWD, New York Magazine and a slew of leading bridal publications. In Houston, she’s received a lot of press due to her association with Casa de Novia, the glamorous young Luvi Wheelock’s couture bridal boutique on D’Amico Street. Recently she flew into town to unveil a sneak preview of her Spring 2006 evening gown collection at a champagne-fueled trunk show hosted by Wheelock, Greggory Burk and Katherine Phelps. Proceeds from the event benefited the Amschwand Sarcoma Foundation’s Catwalk for a Cute, which Burk and Phelps are co-chairing in October.

Petite, fearless and globetrotting, our Japan-born heroine’s fashionable journey took her from Tokyo – where she studied at Japan’s top design school, Modo Gakuen – to a seven year stint in Milan earning her master’s degree and designing for MaxMara and others – and finally in 2002 on to New York, launching Bonaparte-NY line of haute couture bridal.

“If I was going to do it, and do it by myself, I had to go to New York,” she explains. Soon she was sewing away in her apartment, sending out resumes and showing her portfolio. She got a teaching job at Fashion Institute of Technology. “I didn’t speak much English,” she says, “but my draping and technical skills were good, even if my language ones weren’t.” Bear in mind that she also didn’t know anyone or speak any Italian when she had arrived in Milan, but a quick course at a Florence language school took care of that. Simply put, she does what she has to do things right.

That can even mean customizing a design for clients, who in the past have included Halle Berry, Shakira and new Scientologist Katie Holmes. “I bought the fabulous black and gold striped one and Junko is making it emerald green and gold for the Museum of Natural Science’s Romancing the Stone Gala,” says Burk, everyone’s favorite charitable cheerleader. “She creates designs that suit everyone from classic to super sexy – I noticed that right away! And she’s approachable and attentive, which I love!”

She also never slows down. According to her press kit, the evening gown collection was “inspired by a recent trip to the mystic landscape of Morocco where the deeply visual scenery comes to life at dusk. Soft shadows of the village-lined Atlas Mountains are illuminated with breathtaking hues of burnt orange, lavender and royal blue. The soft lines, shadow and vivid colors of the sky translate into the subtle draping of her fabrics, billowing silhouettes and bold yet organic palette.”

Where will her creativity take her next? Well this afternoon she is off to New York and then tomorrow she flies to Japan. At the end of the year, she is off to Argentina. “You never know where your inspiration may come from,” she says. “A view, a sound, a smell, who knows?” Yoshioka has crossed the bridal threshold into evening, and the party’s just beginning.