Cristina Ottaviano's collection of gowns are almost as stunning as Cristina herself. Her West Village showroom highlights her current season’s collection, along with busts of custom pieces she’s working on for clients. In the past year year she has developed an impressive following including the dressing of celebrities at award shows. Read about Cristina’s incredible journey from working for other designers to developing her own brand.
1. Your gowns are stunning! What inspired you to stop designing for others and develop your own brand?
I had been working for custom clients for several years. As my customer base grew, I saw the need and knew it was time to offer a full collection. It was very exciting to go from offering a few silhouettes to designing an entire line. We currently produce two to three collections a year for New York Fashion Week.
2. Your dresses have been worn by some pretty fabulous celebrities. What has been the ultimate "I can't believe this is happening" moment.
We have been very fortunate to work with many stylists and celebrities. This year we dressed Constance Wu, from Fresh Off The Boat. I love the show, so for me, it was very exciting to see her walking the carpet at the Critics Choice Awards wearing a Cristina Ottaviano gown.
3. Where do you find the inspiration for your collections? Do you ever have days where you don't know where to begin?
Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. I always carry a sketchpad with me and jot down notes or illustrate when the mood strikes. I love to be around nature and wildlife - Many of our custom prints originate from these sketches.
I rarely have those kinds of days, but when that does happen I just step away and do something else, then before I know it, I'm creating again.
4. Your showroom is enchanting, how has having your own space changed the experience for the customer vs. finding the product in stores?
The collection is sold in stores and directly through our showroom. We really cater to our customers and love to create specialty pieces or customize a piece in the collection to suit their needs. The customer definitely feels and appreciates that enthusiasm and always falls in love with our showroom. It's a special place. We are just as excited about the customer who buys our designs from a store. Both methods of selling are equally exciting to us for different reasons. All of our collections are made and manufactured in New York. We are very proud of that!
5. Where do you hope to grow the brand in the next 5 years?
During the next five years we will grow and expand our business, having more of a presence in retail stores, domestically as well as internationally. We also hope to meet many more creatives in the field and to work on some exciting collaborations together.