Hannes Richter

Austrian Fashion Designer Emil Gampe Wins TV Reality Competition

Hannes Richter

Austrian fashion designer Emil Gampe, creator of the exclusive collection, “EMILcouture,” is the winning design expert of the inaugural season of Bravo’s reality competition series on the American TV show, “Launch My Line,” on February 3, 2010.

Successful in nine episodes of the series, Gampe was seen by millions of TV viewers.  “Launch My Line” invites accomplished professionals who like fashion to be paired with established fashion designers for a series of nine rounds. Each duo team creates one look for every episode, which is paraded before a studio audience. The rewards include the launch of the winning fashion line, prize money, and the opportunity to advertise in a well-known American fashion magazine.In the final round, the jury compared Gampe with Valentino and selected him, along with his partner Kathy Rose, to be the winners. 

Born in Linz, Emil Gampe began sewing his first piece of clothing at the age of five. At that time, both of his grandmothers were skilled dress makers who served as mentors. As a young boy, he created numerous designs ranging from street clothing to evening wear and dance costumes for competitions.  After finishing his education as a textile engineer and having worked in the Austrian textile industry, he moved from Austria to London, securing a position as manager at one of the world’s leading couture houses. In addition, he attended the highly-recognized school of Saint Martin’s College of Fashion in London.  

Gampe later left for America where he fulfilled his dream of developing his own fashion line, “EMILcouture,” while working as a consultant for up-scale couture enterprises in New York and Los Angeles as well as for a number of high-profile clients, including Stevie Wonder’s wife, famed designer Kai Milla. His line is currently being offered at RoseArk in Los Angeles and Kleinfelds in New York, which carries the largest selection of wedding dresses, designer exclusives and evening wear in America. 

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EmilCouture: left: "Escape", right: "Black Sunset". Emil Gampe

In an interview with Austrian Information, Emil Gampe highlights moments of the show and discusses his background and experiences regarding the fashion industry in Austria and the U.S.:  

How did you come to be on Bravo’s TV fashion reality show?

I submitted the usual application and was, at the end of a hard selection process, one of the experts

chosen from hundreds of applicants. Unlike “Project Runway,”  “Launch My Line” chooses experts who have worked for several years in the fashion industry and have proof of their experience. There were various phases to the selection process, including several video interviews, a sewing test and questionnaires until I was called. After that, everything happened very quickly.  

As to pursuing your career, how did you come to the U.S.?

Initially, I studied textile engineering in Vienna and worked several years in the field of textiles, building a career in the textile industry. I then moved to London for some years, working as the head designer for a major couture house which was primarily involved with dresses for dance, theater stage and film, while additionally studying at St. Martin’s College of Fashion. From there I went to New York for a few years consulting in high end fashion and have currently been in Los Angeles for one-and-one-half years.

My work is primarily concerned with consulting for other fashion lines in the high-end fashion market and the development of my own line EMILcouture.   In the U.S. I have consulted for several recognized names, one of which is the wife of Steve Wonder, Kai Milla, for whom I designed several well received collections, and Jacqulyne Love, wife of Mike Love of the Beach Boys. That was an interesting experience, from which I learned a lot about the U.S. market.

For EMILcouture I have developed an avant garde collection, an evening wear collection and a good clientele for one-off-creations.  As per the TV show success it all began with an advertisement I ran across. I felt that  my participation would increase the recognition of my own brand and wanted to see how far I would come. The producers wanted many different types of contestants; I was lucky to supply a profile and skills that interested them. I went through all steps of the casting, then the actual competition and won at the end. It was a great experience, very different to anything else I have done in the past.  

You worked together with the jewelry designer Kathy Rose. How are the teams paired up?

The pairs were grouped by the producers; none of the participants knew in advance who their partner would be. I initially got to know Kathy through the show and really lucked out. She is a wonderful person. We became friends, and I am now frequently in contact with her, as well as with the other participants in the show.

In comparison to Europe and in view of the interest in fashion, how does the market differ, and what is the attraction of the fashion market in California compared to that of Europe?

The attraction for me lies in the fact that the U.S. market is so big and has so many layers to it. The country simply fits the size of my dreams! As for my particular field, the high-end designer and couture market, there are endless opportunities for specialized designs. I have learned that if you are really good at something and work hard you can be very successful here. In Los Angeles, I plan to focus on EMILcouture for the ‘red carpet’ while I am also considering to launch a ‘ready to wear line’ in New York to cater to a broader market.  

In terms of Austria, there is little I can say because I left my home country when I began designing fashion fulltime. In the near future I am also planning to look into opportunities for distribution there. I would love to see EMILcouture at the Vienna Opera Ball next year!   For those interested in more information, see

Emil Gampe's website: www.emilcouture.com

Bravo' s Lauch my Line: http://www.bravotv.com/launch-my-line

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"Black Sunset" Emil Gampe

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"Escape" Emil Gampe