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Guest article by Ella Beart

Meet the designer dressing the National Pharmacies Queen and Princesses in Adelaide’s 2020 Christmas pageant – Cristina Tridente!

Image credit :: Oh Wild

Cristina is the creative mind behind designer label couture+love+madness, which is best known for its romantic flare, soft coloured fabrics and embellished detail. Having worked in the industry since she was 21, Cristina is sought after in the Adelaide fashion scene.

At our most recent Longest Table Dinner, Hayley and Lauren were decked out in couture+love+madness, adding a magical flare to the room with their bright neon frills and sparkly sequins. Having been long-time lovers of her couture label, we thought that we would pick her brain and get an insight into her fabulous career.

Image credit :: ASB Creative

You started couture+love+madness not long after returning from Sydney – what would you say is your label’s point of difference?

We have a strong focus on providing a very hands-on customer service. We want customers to feel completely comfortable with their experience when they walk through the door. Whether they’re looking for a wedding dress, formal gown, mother-of-the-bride dress, suit, christening or simply for an event, we still provide the same level of service.

First, we have a chat with the client about what they’re looking for — we chat about fabrics, cuts, silhouettes and body shape. We source fabrics from all around the world and can even offer a custom-fabric service in most instances (depending on budget). From here, I sketch up some design options encompassing ideas that we have discussed and will then take measurements and create a pattern to make our first draft. The process proceeds from here, we have a fitting for the draft, make any alterations necessary and get started on the real dress. The whole process usually takes between 4-6 fittings depending on the occasion and garment.

Image credit :: Weronika Mamot

You make everything on-site and your 84-year old Nonna Maria even helps out too – can you tell us what she does and how she got involved?

Nonna Maria has actually been working with our team for about 5 years now! She usually comes 2-3 days a week and assists with hand-finishings, beading, buttons and checking all the garments before they go out. It’s so lovely to have her working with us; she gets along really well with our staff and says it keeps her brain ticking!

It’s great to see how family orientated your business is! You guys have dressed celebrities including Dannii Minogue, The Veronicas, Megan Washington, and Lucy Durack – what events were these for & how did they discover your label?

We have been so lucky to have worked with some beautiful personalities over the years! We recently created a custom piece for Dannii Minogue to wear on one of the finals for The Masked Singer, in collaboration with Rockstar stylist Rachel Dennis, which was super fun and inspired by a disco ball!

Earlier in the year, we worked with Adelaide-born stylist Nicole Bonython-Hines for a national campaign with The Veronicas for the launch of their new perfume which was such a fun and exciting project for us! Megan Washington recently released her new album, wearing one of our pieces on the cover. This piece was crafted during my time at summer school at Central Saint Martins in London a few years ago and is part of our sister label, Tridente. Over the last couple of years, we have worked on a few projects with singing sensation Lucy Durack, from Christmas carols to special pieces for her solo shows!

Last year you released your first bridal collection (La Vie en Rose 19), how have you found that experience so far? Is the creative process much different to other collections?

I think growing up and looking at bridal trends I believed bridal was very cookie-cutter and almost predictable; we want to break that mould and push the boundaries with our brides (should they want to go down that path). It’s such a special process to be part of someone’s special day – you get to know them so well over the process — sometimes it takes up to a year! With clients, it’s a really individual process (unlike designing for a collection), depending on the client we really make a mix of traditional, modern, quirky and classic designs. Our most important attribute is fit and fabric; we strive to have unique and exclusive fabrics and always make a first draft (called a ‘toile’) to ensure a perfect fit for all our clients.

Image credit :: Weronika Mamot

You’ve said that this year brides are opting for less traditional silhouettes and are choosing what their hearts desire over society’s expectations. Why do you think brides are opting to do this? Has COVID-19 played a significant role?

I think with Covid especially, brides are really thinking about what’s really important to them when it comes to their wedding day. At the end of the day, the wedding is about them and their partner, we are there to bring their vision to life. It’s a real combination of their personality mixed with our unique fabrics and top craftsmanship.

After you graduated from TAFE SA with a diploma of Applied Fashion Design, you went and worked with various major fashion labels – could you tell us how they helped your career and influenced how you do business?

It was great to go and undertake work experience at a variety of labels post studying. I spent time at Zimmermann, Camilla and Mark and Manning Cartel in Sydney which provided a great insight into the industry. I learnt about mass production, ready-to-wear drop schedules and the quick turnaround times for these iconic Australian labels. I always knew deep down I wanted to work solely on made-to-measure and couture; for me, the physical work and love that goes into a single piece is more rewarding than pumping out collection after collection.

Image credit :: Weronika Mamot

If you’re in the market for a custom-made dress, or just simply want to ogle over Cristina’s garments in person, you can visit her new shop-front on the Parade in Norwood.

I’ve already put the Christmas pageant into my schedule, excited to see Cristina’s “’modern-day-princess’ vibe with bold colours, exaggerated shapes and clean lines.”

Ella xx

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