Collette Dinnigan: A Feminine Touch
Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan is all about appealing to the femininity in women — her two most recent collections, despite being for the fall and winter seasons, were entirely comprised of skirts and dresses, except for a single pair of shorts. The colors she utilizes speak to the same type of woman, with remarkably soft pallets and, at times, careful hints of lace. Her choice to dedicate her line to this type of client makes sense when considering that the South African-born and New Zealand-raised blonde beauty got her start in the world of lingerie. And despite expanding her fashion repertoire, Dinnigan has continuously devoted her time to this particular style.
Dinnigan, now based out of Australia, is capable of dressing her clients at any point in their lives. From the bedroom, their wedding day, to more simple street wear, her collections have them covered. Her once dry-clean only lingerie collection now boasts playful yet classy pieces, sporting both soft colors with lace trim to more bold animal prints. The intricacy of lingerie is one of her favorite aspects of the design process, as she tells New Zealand online fashion magazine Fashionz, “…what I love is that it’s all so tiny and small, it’s almost like you want to frame pieces! Whereas when you tend to get big gowns, with a lot of fabric, there isn’t the same ‘smallness’ of it, you know, the attention to detail? And I think you can use some really beautiful print, and not necessarily have to be so traditional. And it’s just the femininity of it all, really, and the trimmings, those are the bits that I love.” Her bridal collection ranges in style as well, but ultimately goes for a classic look in cool whites. Some are decorated with a more delicate silk organza while others are fully embroidered in Swarovski crystals. Her ready-to-wear pieces also go for bright looks, flirtatious dresses, and occasionally sheer and bold trim. This ability to take on all types of designs makes her a powerhouse in the fashion world.
Perhaps this desire to try her hand in various collections was originally inspired by her youth. Her early life in South Africa was filled with taking risks, having been born to two adventurous parents who didn’t mind an unusual lifestyle. Their family would travel for months at a time at sea, moments Dinnigan reflects on in an interview with Australian TV show Talking Heads: “It was extraordinary. We were in 40-feet waves. Almost couldn’t even get the sails up. But we survived. Although we had such a free life and it was kind of bohemian and we were travelers most definitely, gypsies of the sea. There’s was enormous amount of discipline too that came from our parents. And, you know, we were instilled very good family values and good manners because you couldn’t afford to for a moment not listen to your parents when you were at sea.” Eventually, however, Dinnigan and her family settled down in New Zealand, a place that the designer considers home but ultimately felt was not creatively stimulating enough.
Prior to leaving New Zealand, though, the designer got her first taste in fashion, completely by accident. After withdrawing from school, she enrolled in what she thought was going to be a graphics course at Wellington Polytechnic in Petone. By the time the instructor was talking about measuring tape and pins, Dinnigan realized she was in the wrong course. She ultimately decided to stay in the fashion class when it was suggested to her that she didn’t have what it took to finish. Upon completing the course, however, she relocated to Australia to work as a costume designer for ABC and then opened up her own lingerie store a couple years later.
Dinnigan’s fashions from here on out just kept growing. Her store was quick to be noticed and has become the staple for lingerie inspired fashion, and she designs and releases three highly anticipated collections per year. She also was the first Australian to launch a ready-to-wear line in Paris. Additionally, Dinnigan has become such a favorite in her country that she is even featured on one of their stamps. With more stores now in Sydney, Melbourne, and London, she is becoming an internationally sought after designer. She also offers a discount line at Target for those looking to have quick access to her pieces. As an international fashion star, Collette Dinnigan continues to create innovative pieces for women everywhere. Whether designing for her collection at Target or finishing the detailed trim of a wedding gown, her expertise in women’s fashion is the first to shine.
– Melissa Cruz