Nicole Contente just graduated a year ago, but has already entered the competitive world of high fashion.
Chic Bristolians should keep their eyes open in the coming years, because a new name in the world of fashion is officially on the scene — and it’s a name you might be familiar with.
Nicole Contente (yes, Town Administrator Steve Contente is her uncle) recently debuted a line of 10 handmade pieces for a fashion show that sought to display the lush, optimistic finery that defined the post-WWII era in a collection she dubbed “Champagne and Satin”. The lineup included glitzy gowns, dramatic dresses, and rambunctious rompers alongside more everyday pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in any upscale boutique from the serene lanes of the East Bay to Westminster Street in the state capital.
Contente’s handcrafted garments seemed to be well-received among the guests and industry talent scouts that gathered at the Dye House in Providence last Thursday to benefit the Poj Laib Tribe Foundation, which seeks to empower women to reach their greatest potential.
“It all happened kind of fast, so it was kind of hectic. I’m just grateful I was able to do it and pull it off in such a short amount of time,” Contente said in a recent interview. She said she only had about two months’ notice to prepare for the show, and while she had several of the pieces already made, she had to create two from scratch and work to alter the other pieces to fit with the models who would be showing them off to the crowd.
Contente graduated from Syracuse University in 2022, and had worked on the themed line as part of her senior thesis. She said that she was inspired partially by the hibernation and rebirth that happened throughout COVID, and drew inspiration from the time after World War II when people seemed to dress to the nines for no particular reason other than the world was no longer on the brink of destruction, and every day seemed worthy of a celebration.
“That’s kind of like almost a lost art,” Contente said. “No one really dresses up that often as much as they did before. I wanted to bring a little glitz and glam to some more modern takes.”
Although she is still in the beginning of her fashion career, Contente said her ultimate goal is to open a boutique of her own — maybe in Bristol, maybe not, she just knows it won’t be in a big metropolis.
“I think a boutique is the way to go. It might be the Bristol in me, but I can’t stay in the city for more than two days. I’m not a city girl,” she said. “And I like the whole process of if I have a sketch or don’t have a sketch, sewing it and completing it myself. I think that gives me more pride in my work when I do every single step of it.”
Just a year out of college, it certainly seems like the sky is the limit for the talented young designer.
“Even though it’s been a year since graduating, it’s cool to have shown my work to some important people who were in the audience,” she said. “Makes me feel good.”