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Our Exclusive Interview with Christine Dando

Celebrated designer Christine Dando reveals all about creating exciting campaign imagery, as well as the secrets behind her success – it’s all about her stockists

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Year after year, Bridal Buyer eagerly awaits the campaign images from Dando London – always shot in dynamic locations, always showing off the gowns to perfection. This year’s photography is no different, set in the Valley of Fire in Nevada, the dramatic backdrop adds drama and excitement to the collection.

We catch up with talented designer Christine Dando – who you’ll certainly recognise from TV’s Say Yes to the Dress – to find out more about the campaign. Christine tells us about her latest designs, which she describes as sexy, fashion-forward, dramatic and oozing with class.

The collection is called The Goddesses of the Desert, and each gown has been named after a deity – making the Valley of Fire in Nevada the perfect setting. “I have such a passion for pushing the boundaries and finding ways to show the gowns off to their best,” says Christine. “I am always thinking ahead to how each dress I design will look in the chosen location.”

As you’ll be able to see from the images, getting a bridal shoot completed in this type of setting certainly took a lot of skill…and didn’t come without its challenges – especially in terms of logistics. Imagine carrying dresses and equipment deep into the dry desert, with nothing other than rocks, hills and mountains to climb. “This was both physically and technically challenging,” explains Christine. “The term used is ‘shooting gorilla’ without trailers or any facilities. We had all the elements to contend with from the heat to freezing cold.”

Read more: Our exclusive interview with Jean Jackson Couture.

The end result is certainly worth the effort – but how was the shoot planned and put together? “I work on how many shots we will take each day and details such as poses, different backdrops to suit each dress and the logistics on getting to the location and travel arrangements.”

Christine takes on the styling herself, working with hair and makeup artists each day to create a look for every gown. “I am right in the thick of the whole shoot, attending to every detail for each shot. Once a test shot has been set up, I check with the photographer before they continue shooting. I like every picture to be individual, but at the same time cohesive, forming a look within the collection. I aim to strike a fine balance between something quite dramatic and at the same time very natural and organic.”

“The dresses pretty much fit the chosen model to perfection and are exactly as you see them. This is important for me; if I have a model that needs to be tucked and pinned into every dress it takes up valuable time and distracts from the flow of the day. I always cast all my models personally and see them in my dresses before they are hired. The model needs to represent my dresses and let brides get a true feel of exactly how the dress will look on the body. My gowns are designed for real girls with curves and cut to enhance and flatter the bride’s shape,” Christine explains.

Read more: Our catch up with Charlie Brear to learn about her background and secrets to success.

While Christine knows the importance of good imagery for publicity purposes, the key reason she – and the brand overall – places so much emphasis on photography is to support stockists. And because her images are so desirable, she doesn’t really need to encourage retailers to use the collection photography as “they can see for themselves the value in high quality images to use within their own advertising or social media.”

This is just one of many reasons that Dando London’s stockists rave about how much they love their supplier – the brand has never lost sight of just how important its retailers are in making the brand’s story the success that it is today.

Read more: Check out our catch up with bridal retailer Joanne Stott.

As Christine says: “We have a team that has in excess of 60 years’ combined bridal experience. This gives us an understanding of not just design and production but also retail. We understand the needs of a retailer and the bride herself. The success is not just in the end product, but also understanding how we can help the stores to close sales with brides.

Understanding the direct needs of the brides’ means being able to offer bespoke changes to dresses, and never having to say no to a bride’s request. If she needs to raise a neckline, we can do that, if she needs more lace on the train, we do that, too.”

Building on the offering to retailers, Dando London tries to ensure it adds value at every opportunity. The brand regularly provides Designer Days, where the latest collection is sent out to stockists to help them with promotion in advance of their own dresses arriving.

In addition, the company also specifically holds a collection of gowns for sending out for loans. “Every day we get enquiries directly from brides all over the world that have seen the gowns on Say Yes to the Dress,” explains Christine. “Constantly we are sending dresses out to our stockists that don’t carry that particular style.” Dando’s customer service team will match the bride to her nearest stockist, and then send out the loan dress to the store closest to her.

“At the moment we still have many gaps in the country with brides calling and no stockist close by, so the bride is having to travel sometimes four hours to try on a Dando London dress. The power of the dresses being seen on TV by millions of viewers every week is huge and drives brides directly to the stores that stock the collection,” says Christine.

Want more? Read our exclusive interview with bridal designer Jacqui James.

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