The thought process

Gallery of Wearable Art was located on 67th Street between Park and Madison Avenue. A few days after 9/11, I passed by the store and met the owner, Bronnie Kupris. She explained that customers had been staying away since the attack and business was suffereing. I offered to help because I didn’t want to see such a gem close. Bronnie explained that more than anything, a website would help because it would allow them to show their designs to international audience without them having to come to New York.

The challenge, as I saw it, was to design a site that created an atmosphere which mirrored the very unique experience within the store; be able to show off the exquisite materials used in the designs, and yet be something I could pull off singlehandedly because budgets were so tight.

wedding gown detail

wedding gown

wedding gown

coat detail

coat detail

Mostly, they made one-of-a-kind evening gowns, art coats and wedding gowns. The detail was extraordinary and was an added challenge to convey on a website.

I always photographed the new collection on site, using existing store lighting. Everything was shot against black velvet to make it easy for me to silhouette. I used display mannequins, and by shooting in the store I had access to their full range of accessories for styling. It was a very efficient and cost effective method. I work very fast, and would typically shoot a whole collection in one day.

On the website, each piece had a dedicated page within its section (art coats, art gowns, etc...) The viewer could rollover the item to see another view – either back or side, depending which described the most about the piece. If you clicked on a piece, a close up would be revealed, perhaps a detail of the embroidery. When an item was sold but before it was replaced, I used the traditional art gallery way of signalling a sale by using a little red dot next to the piece.

red dot

The vintage flourishes and borders I was using to frame the pieces were also used when selling jewelry and accessories. Again, I shot everything on site and added the flourish in post production.


I quickly became their personal designer, doing everything they needed as it arose. When they needed models, I talked my friends and colleagues into playing dress up for a day. When I organized events, I hired my interns to play the music, or invited my other clients to supply the catering, photography, make-up– whatever made it happen exactly the way I envisaged.






My models were also young designers, so I made sure they were involved in and learned as much about the process as I did.

When Bronnie wanted to approach Hollywood stylists, I learned about book binding and handmade and bound the Look Books myself. I created a form template from another job and handmade custom envelopes to mail them in. The response was terrific. We received comments that they had never seen such beautiful Look Books. Julie Taymore wore an art gown to the Oscars, 2009.


What the client said:

"What's great about working with Katja is that she is fearless, nothing is a problem and everything is possible."


Gallery of Wearable Art


The relationship: Began with a website to show their collection to clients who stopped coming to the city after 9/11.


I always thought that one of their seamstresses looked like Juliette Binoche. Here she is at the Gates in Central Park

GOWA archive


vogue italia

xxBronnie's home was as much a treasure trove as the store. Years of collecting and rescuing architectural details from demolition. It was the perfect setting for our shoot.







Thanks to my friends, we had some fabulous images for ads

25th Anniversary Gala. Red carpet, theatrical lighting, live music, and models. • Julia and designer, Alex Teih

Bronnie Kupris with Tovah Feldschu • Prosecco and catering provided by Nicola Maurello of Pasticcio

Bronnie with the models • Katja Maas with Philip Bruno, director of the Marlboro Gallery and Clare Henry, Financial Times Arts Critic

Street party ran late into the evening ,everyone had fun • Ileana Aste of Ibero American Productions and me

Jullie Taymor at the Oscars wearing Gallery Art gown....STEVIE NICKS
Julie Taymore at the Oscars

Whoopi Goldberg wearing Gallery Art Coat
Whoopi Goldberg in a Gallery Art Coat

Low budget ad using web photography.
































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