Mom's a Genius: Local bridal gown designer debuts line at New York's Bridal Fashion Week

Posted at 4:38 PM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 17:26:02-04

Katerina Bocci's story is one of passion, determination and the American Dream.

Her bridal gowns are known for their opulent finishes, impeccable hand beading, and fine fabrics. 

“This is our seventh year introducing our Bridal Couture Collection in New York’s Bridal Fashion week,” Katernina explains.

But the tapestry that tells Katerina’s story was first stitched far from her design studio in Shelby Township, and the runways of New York. It began overseas in Albania.

“I grew up pretty much alone, the only child of my wonderful mother and father that gave me so much love. We lived in communism for a long time, and America was my Promised Land,” she says.

“My father did sewing before for men’s suits and tailoring, so i was into the theme of that. But he wanted me to be a translator. He wanted me to be a journalist. He had bigger dreams for me.”

Being Catholic, Katerina worked with nuns as a translator, but when they opened sewing classes, her tapestry was about to come into color. Katerina was so talented, the nuns took her to Italy and invested in her education. She opened a school with the nuns teaching classes, and then opened her own shop in Albania. But political arrest in her country led to tragedy. Her house was bombed… her father killed.

“I promised him in the death bed, I will make sure to make you proud.”

Thanks to help from the American Embassy, in 2001 Katerina was able to move to the United States, along th her mom and two daughters. She had extended family that had moved here decades earlier.

“Leaving our country with lots of sorrow and lots of pain, and leaving my memories of the past, and always with a hope to come to the Promised Land,” Katerina explains.

In the last 15 years, she’s gone from one sewing machine in a Sterling Heights apartment to a bridal couture line showcased for the world to see. She dressed brides here at home, and as far away as Dubai.

“(It’s) made in Michigan, made in USA, with lots of pride and lots of hearts,” she says.

She has three daughters now. The two oldest work alongside her creating one of a kind masterpieces. One of her daughters is getting married and moving to New York to open up a Katerina Bocci boutique in Manhattan.

Katerina’s latest collection is inspired by her mom’s unwavering commitment to her family. As for that promise to her dad to make him proud… there’s no doubt.

“And I will continue to do so, not only for my father, but now for my three wonderful children, because I am blessed as a parent to be chosen to have children and now I want to continue that for them.”

You can find our more about Katerina Bocci’s collection at her website