Meet the Brilliant Designer behind couture + love + madness
Meet Cristina Tridente, the designer behind popular couture label couture + love + madness.
What’s your earliest fashion memory?
When I was 5 I started making dresses for my barbie dolls. My grandmother was a dressmaker, and my family was always crafty so I would collect scraps of fabric and basically glue them together because I obviously couldn’t sew at 5. Then I would take photos of them. That’s definitely my earliest memory and when I decided that I wanted to design as a career.
What drew you to couture? What’s your favourite thing about it?
The appreciation behind it, it’s slow fashion, it’s not mass produced. For me, I would
rather make something that took 3 months of blood, sweat and tears, than to pump out 30 pairs of shorts in a day. When I was young, I would look at Barbies and watch movies. I really loved the big dresses, the sequins, anything glitzy. It’s never crossed my mind to design anything else. People design in two different ways most of the time. Either they have a design and source fabric, or they source fabric and then they’re inspired to design. I’m definitely the latter. If I see a fabric, I won’t buy it unless I know what I’m going to make out of it. That’s what led me to go overseas to source all of my fabrics. I go once a year and hand-pick everything. It’s great to see the new trends and bring them back to Australia. That way you can ensure that your clients will have a unique piece
What are your main influences?
Everyday life, and also, something I didn’t think was ever possible. My dad and brother are both architects, and I was so anti all of that growing up and whilst travelling. But it’s hard not to be influenced by it when you’re surrounded in your everyday life. A family trip to New York where I was dragged around to look at architecture actually really inspired my very first collection graduating from TAFE SA and completely changed my outlook. I’m definitely inspired by architecture and I also have a really close connection with China. A lot of people have noted that all of my collections look slightly oriental. It’s a really great connection for me and I love the vibrancy and richness of China. Everything is quite opulent with their fabrics with red being their lucky colour and also my favourite colour. Gold features quite heavily over there as well, so the colour combinations really fit in with my work.
What makes your designs unique?
I had been going to China for many years, long before I went to design school in London. When I first traveled there to showcase my designs, I was heavily inspired by the fabrics and I ended up with a Chinese/Western collection called Silk Road. It was basically their traditional fabrics sewn into Western styles and cuts. I had a really great response from China because it was an interesting blend of traditional and non-traditional without the Mandarin collar. It was very different to a stereotypical Chinese collection. My designs are also unique as the cuts are quite feminine and classic. I also love interesting, textured, and colourful fabrics.
You were the very first South Australian to be accepted into London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins. How was the experience.
I was a bit nervous heading off. They’re one of the very few schools worldwide that offer an Advanced Fashion program which I was very excited about after studying an Advanced Diploma at TAFE SA. I hope to be inspired by learning and embracing the “Central Saint Martin’s way”. The intensive course is filled with pattern making, sewing, lectures, fashion illustration, and portfolio development. It’ had been a dream of mine for such a long time. It was a fantastic opportunity, as it had been a dream of mine for such a long time. It was incredibly inspiring and I came back with so many new ideas.
I switched to focusing on bridal when I came back from studying at Central Saint Martin’s. At the time it was new for me, but my bridal ranges seem to have hit a cord. Not long after that I secured my own outlet in Norwood Parade and that has kept me incredibly busy.
@ couture + love + madness
Interview: Jacqueline Miholos
See more about Cristina in The Rising Stars of Fashion