We were thrilled to work with sister duo Ashley and Brittany Castanos as part of our Designer Collective. We have long admired the ladies behind Daughters of Simone as successful female entrepreneurs and for their carefree approach to bridal fashion. We knew they would create gorgeous gowns for our boho brides, and they did not disappoint. To celebrate the success of our recent collaboration, we chatted with Ash about the brand’s inspirations, their beginnings as a disruptor in the typically buttoned-up bridal industry, and what’s coming next.
It’s so inspiring to see what you and Brit have accomplished in such a short time. Can you tell us a little bit about how you launched Daughters of Simone?
The brand started as a vintage wedding dress line only; we gathered vintage pieces, updated them a bit and resold them with a fresh look. The first made-to-order bridal collection that we launched was comprised of about a dozen gowns based on actual vintage pieces that we had in-house or had seen in old fashion editorials.
While I was in grad school, Brit, hired me to sell dresses out of my home in San Francisco. What was merely a rack of gowns next to my bed became the “Daughters Of Simone San Francisco Showroom.” Over the next 3 years I would host bridal fittings in my apartment, and we watched our business grow into something bigger than we had expected. Brides and their families were traveling from out of state to try on gowns in my bedroom, and that’s when we knew that we had something truly special.
Shop the Kemp Gown
What do you think made DOS different than other bridal lines at the time?
I don’t know if brides had ever even considered a bridal shopping experience where they were able to try on comfortable gowns in a relaxed atmosphere with flowing champagne and Lykke Li playing on the speakers. It seemed like almost every aspect of their DOS shopping experience was unique to what had been considered a predominately stale industry.
One of our favorite ‘coming of age stories’ is when we showed at New York Bridal Week for the first time. Saying we stood out would be an understatement! Our surrounding neighbors didn’t quite appreciate our painter’s cloth covered booth covered in eucalyptus vines and floral crown imagery or a dress rack showcasing two-piece crochet lace dresses and no corseting or tulle in sight. And they definitely didn’t want to make friends with the holey-jean clad girls who were joyfully giggling over a bit too much champagne and modeling their own gowns. Regardless this was an eye-opening experience for us and the industry as a whole. We quickly made friends with other designers in the industry who were just as inspired as we were to provide a new vibe.
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Where do you and Brit find inspiration?
When Daughters of Simone began we were inspired by the original flower child, our Mother. She wore a 1970’s off the shoulder wedding dress, and that image of a bride never left our memories.
With that being said, our Mom is not Simone. Daughters of Simone is a take on our admiration for the French writer and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir. She was a woman who went against the grain, spouting her mouth on women’s rights and what it meant to be a woman during a time when it was frowned upon for women to do so. When we launched the brand, we too were going against the grain and providing a product that was hard to find and was maybe frowned upon by an industry with such strict guidelines and formalities. We were breaking all the bridal fashion rules by exposing midriffs, using ‘casual’ fabrics, and offering gowns that didn’t have sweetheart necklines.
In more recent years we have taken inspiration from female icons, such as Alison Mosshart, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Nicks, who have stunned us with their bold, fresh, and unique style through the years.
Shop the Piper Gown
What’s next for DOS?
As far as design goes, I think what really keeps us going is designing wedding gowns inspired by the dresses we would want to wear for other events. To us, it seems like the bride was always expected to be more of a prop by dressing a very particular way. We would see someone at the Met Gala wearing the most outrageous flowing kaftan and think, “damn, why couldn’t that be a wedding dress?” More and more of our designs are coming from dresses that we have ogled over and are reconsidering as wedding dresses instead of simply red carpet looks or evening wear. It’s much easier to design unique wedding dresses when you ignore all the rules!
Images by @michellelphoto