Caitlin Crisp Bridal

We are absolutely thrilled to unveil Caitlin Crisp’s debut bridesmaid collection, brimming with excitement and pride. Dive into the exclusive reveal featured in issue #34 and explore the excitement below…

While the CC brand has made a name for itself with its stylish ready-to-wear dresses and versatile separates, Caitlin’s passion has always extended to include the bridal market. By formulating a range based on their most common requests, designer Caitlin Crisp has found herself the go-to option for bridesmaids who want to coordinate but still choose the styles and colours that suit them best.

When Together Journal calls to interview leading New Zealand fashion designer Caitlin Crisp, she’s adding the finishing touches to a stunning tulle wedding dress.

But it’s not just any wedding dress: the elegant white gown is what Caitlin, 28, will be wearing when she marries her long-time partner Andrew Vincent (see her story on p.60).

We’re chatting two days before her wedding and if Caitlin is feeling nervous, she isn’t showing it. Naturally, our conversation turns to wedding dresses.

“I love designing bespoke bridal dresses and have been doing so since I started the Caitlin Crisp (CC) label in 2019,” says Caitlin.

“But I’m around the most beautiful dresses all day so it took me a while to figure out what I wanted for my own wedding. I searched high and low and tried on all these different international designer outfits and even fell in love with an Elie Saab dress I saw in Sydney. But that was a bit too OTT for me, as I’m quite a short person.”

It was, says Caitlin, the moment she decided to design her own dress.

“A friend I’ve done a lot of work with helped me make it. It’s basically 200m of tulle and features several bows, which are a CC signature, as well as a special blue button from my grandmother’s button jar. The whole front zips off and pins back so that it FEATURE turns into a kind of mini but still with a long train, which is how I’ll wear it for the cocktail hour.”

Although the CC brand is known mostly for stylish ready-to-wear dresses and separates that can takewomen from the beach to work to a wedding, Caitlin has always had a soft spot for the bridal market.

“In our first year of business, someone said to me, ‘I love your work, can you make me a white linen wedding dress?’ So I did, and loved the process. Then friends asked me to design their bridesmaids’ dresses and it was a natural progression, because a lot of my friends and customers were getting married.”

When one of those dresses appeared in Together Journal last year, Caitlin was inundated with orders. “We started doing made-to-order bridal and bridesmaid dresses, but then I realised that by streamlining the operation, we could produce a range based on what bridesmaids had been requesting. That would make it much easier, because customers could see what the dress looked like and the colourways it comes in.”

That bridesmaids’ range, which launches in April, contains six designs in nine colourways. Bridesmaids can choose all the same style and colour, or a mix of both.

“They’re all variations on a slip dress, made from silk, which means that they can just as easily be worn by bridesmaids as wedding guests. And bridesmaids love it, because they’re not being compared to their fellow bridesmaids. We all look different, we’re all different shapes, sizes and have different colouring, so each bridesmaid can find a style that suits them.”

The range comes in sizes 6-16, but Caitlin’s team will make a dress to fit any size so, for example, if a bridesmaid is a 12 bust but 10 hip or similar, they can make a dress to fit her body.

As with the fabric for her ready-to-wear range, the bridesmaids’ range is sourced from around the globe.

“We work directly with mills in Portugal, Japan and China as well as with fabric suppliers in New Zealand who source deadstock from international designers.”

One international trend that Caitlin is keen for bridesmaids to adopt here is using a mix of patterns such as print and plain dresses for the wedding party.

“The dresses might all be green, but one might be floral, one might be plain, and another might be polka dot. It’s playing with colour and print and would be a lot of fun to design.”

It’s an approach that Caitlin has adopted since her aunty bought her a sewing machine when she was 12, following a tradition started by her seamstress grandmother and great grandfather, who was a tailor.

Caitlin was always entrepreneurial, sewing and selling scrunchies to her school friends and, later, starting a menswear business.

Her skills caught the eye of the producers of Project Runway NZ and in 2018 Caitlin made it onto the TV reality show, at 22 the youngest competitor in the series.

“I was up against contestants who had a lot of experience in the industry, but I was so young. I managed to make it to the semi-finals, which was great for my confidence.”

Caitlin puts her subsequent success down to the fact that the CC brand is relatable.

“I work with retailers and customers and really listen to them. If a customer is trying on a dress and it’s not working for her because perhaps she can’t wear a bra with it, then I’ll incorporate that feedback, because a garment has to be functional as well as beautiful.”

She also designs for as wide a cross-section of women as possible, from her mother to students saving for their first designer piece.

Caitlin will be bringing that inclusive ethos to her bridal range in the not too distant future.

“It’s definitely my mid-to-long-term goal to introduce a CC bridal collection as I have done with the bridesmaid dresses. I’ve yet to figure out exactly what this will look like and my ideas are changing and growing by the day, so watch this space!”

Caitlin Crisp Bridesmaids

For more, visit Caitlin Crisp website HERE or Instagram HERE.

Words by Sharon Stephenson and brand photography by @hollysarahburgess (magazine flat lays by Together Journal).