Collette Dinnigan speaks in a calm, soothing voice. Words flow from her tongue like leaves on a breeze. Her terms of choice are ‘chic’ and ‘elegant.’ Reinvented on her palette, these familiar adjectives sound undeniably exotic and positively different. “When people think about my clothes,” she says, “it is very much about the timeless elegance. They never go out of fashion. There is always something about them that is very appealing. They are so chic.” Indeed, the talented designer’s pretty clothes, embellished with metallic subtleties, hand-sewn crystals and intricate beadwork, are irresistible, especially to big screen icons like, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie.
Ms. Dinnigan attributes her dizzying success to an unwavering commitment to quality and detail. She explains “people want the essence of the designer. They want something different. That’s something I try to do—create something that will last.” A close examination of Collette’s creations proves this point. Her stunning silk charmeuse dresses, antique lace skirts, tweed jackets, cashmere suits and wool trousers are all made with a delicate couture sensibility.
Dinnigan’s work is incredibly fresh and versatile --a sveltely confident look, underscored by an inventive mix of layers, colors and textures. However, she stresses the importance of her clients: “every woman who wears my clothes gives them a personality… no two women can wear the same dress and look exactly the same.” Surely, while some like to sport the charming Aussie’s short, strong and defined shapes for a risqué impact, others opt for the prim and the proper glamour offered by her more subtle ensembles. Ms. Dinnigan accepts her across-the-board appeal and emphasizes her dedication to the intricacy or her designs: “I spend a lot of time on cut and detail. I think a woman can feel that when she tries the dress on.”
Today, some designers attempt to construct clothes appropriate for all occasions. To Collette, “some pieces are distinctly eveningwear and some are distinctly daywear.” It all depends on the individual. Her work is not simply sexy, “it is much more elegant and chic,” and “it is more about the attitude and they way it’s worn.”
Collette is candid about her opinions on American style. She recognizes the difference between consumers from Los Angeles to New York, and offers, “New York customers are much more conservative…L.A. customers like short and sexy.” Though her clientele includes discerning A-list stars like Claudia Schiffer, Jerry Hall and Charlize Theron, Dinnigan quickly admits she gets the biggest kick out of every-day people coming into her store and buying off the racks.
After a long conversation about clothes, celebrities, fashion and runways, one thing Collette said sticks with me. "What is really important, no matter what you do, is to be passionate [about what you do], and that I am." I turn her words over in my head and realize: it is not only the craftsmanship and attention to detail that make her creations so special; it is the love for her art that she breathes into each piece.
Collette Dinnigan Fashion Tips:
1. “To me winter is very much about layering. Summer is all about freedom and women showing off their bodies.”
2. “It is all about little, beautiful, beaded capes, especially in the evening. They are so elegant and chic. You can put them over a simple little black lace dress and give your look a great twist.”