Maroon and Gray Celebration Katie Gallagher (1986-2022)

Katie Gallagher, an artist at heart and a designer by profession, bloomed from her central Pennsylvania roots to make a bold statement in the world of fashion. Her journey, tragically cut short, left behind a legacy that continues to inspire.

Born on August 15, 1986, in DuBois, Katie moved with her three sisters, Gwen, Lara and Marlee, and their parents — Barry, a history teacher and Debra, a nurse— to State College in 1999. She graduated from State High in 2005. 

Even as she rose to acclaim in the fashion industry, Katie often talked about her childhood with her parents and sisters. In an interview with Ravelin magazine, she said, “I love to tell childhood stories. I had a great one. When I was a child, for me, it wasn’t really about creating “art.” It was all about exploring nature, inventing scenarios for everything, making every holiday—especially Halloween—an enormous and very important event.”

Katie’s passion for the arts led her to Rhode Island School of Design where she declared apparel design as her major after her freshman year. As her distinctive vision began to take shape, Katie’s talent did not go unnoticed. Internships with Anna Sui and threeASFOUR honed her skills. Her senior thesis collection caught the eye of fashion magazines and boutiques, setting the stage for her future success.

After graduating in 2009, Katie moved to New York City, where she established her brand, Katie Gallagher. Katie’s designs were featured in prestigious publications such as Vogue and Elle, and her brand quickly became one to watch. She was known for her attention to detail, superior craftsmanship, and creativity. Katie was a talented and innovative pattern maker and seamstress. She handmade every piece in her collections and commissions using her industrial sewing machines as well as a household machine handed down to her from her paternal grandmother. Katie dressed cultural icons, including Lady Gaga, Rita Ora, and Laverne Cox. She also modeled for several fellow designers and labels.

Friends and colleagues say Katie embodied the passion and grit it takes to make it in a tough industry. Shan Reddy, chief operating officer of Prabal Gurung, met Katie in 2007 and witnessed her commitment to launching her career.  “For me, Katie personified the work behind the work. More beautiful than any magazine editorial or collection review was her determination to work as a bartender, a florist, a seamstress or whatever it took to realize her truth and vision,” he said. “She’s the story of so many New Yorkers that come to the city with nothing, and give it everything, making it the place the world looks to for creativity, inspiration and most importantly, grit.”

In an interview, while working on her Spring/Summer ’17 collection, a writer asked Katie how she spends her downtime. Her response displays her passion and drive: “I don’t really prefer to relax in a common sense. My idea of relaxation is getting things done… I would like a swimming pool best with an easel set up next to it and a sewing machine handy.”

Tragically, Katie’s life was cut short on July 23, 2022, just shy of her 36th birthday. In March 2023, her death was ruled a homicide and her family continues to work closely with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to seek justice for Katie and ensure that those responsible for her death are held accountable. Her untimely passing left the fashion world mourning a great talent and her friends and family missing an even greater spirit.

Katie’s legacy endures through the Katie Gallagher Artist Archive, established by her family to preserve and celebrate her work. The archive is a testament to Katie’s impact on fashion and art, housing over 550 garments, sketches, and inspirations, providing insight into her creative process.

From rural central Pennsylvania to the runways of New York Fashion Week, Katie carved a path that was uniquely hers. Her designs and her memory continue to inspire. SCASD Education Foundation is honored to recognize Katie’s life and legacy and is grateful to her family for making this recognition possible.

Katie’s sister Marlee said, “From art classes at State High and the Art Alliance to a career as an internationally recognized artist and designer, Katie’s life and work embody the purpose and goals of the Maroon & Gray Society. It’s really special to recognize Katie in the place she grew up, where she found and honed her skills, where she always found inspiration.”

Visit to see Katie’s work and follow along with the family’s progress in protecting and promoting Katie’s legacy.

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