Collette Dinnigan is an Australian fashion designer. She started as a lingerie designer and then moved onto evening trousers and blouses. At the start of her career she found out that the Australian people didn't really find it appropriate to buy fancy lingerie. Instead of losing hope and following the on-going trends she stuck to her beliefs and a time came when her dresses were worn by famous actresses including Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry and Kate Hudson. As a child, Collette Dinnigan wanted to become a veterinary scientist or a marine biologist, and becoming a fashion designer was totally incidental. She believes she was born in a family of 'sea-gypsies', as her family spent many years on their yacht. Her family travelled around Australia and landed at New Zealand. Collette admits she didn't like the new country or their new house and thus moved onto Australia to pursue her career. Within years, she became a respected name in the industry and the confirmation came when Paris' fashion industry came calling
Childhood & Early Life
Collette Dinnigan was born on September 24, 1965 in Durban, South Africa. Their family stayed on a yacht for several years and then they sailed around the western coast of Australia and eventually settled in New Zealand.
Her father was Irish and her mother had a modelling agency and designed textiles.
Collette wanted to to study graphics and attended a full days’ lecture, only to find out that it was the fashion course. Choosing 'Fashion and Textile' as her course, she graduated from Wellington Polytechnic.
After graduation she moved to Sydney, Australia and started working in the costume department of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She also did theatre, rock bands' styling and made feature films.
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Her first catalogue was shot at the Alice Motel in Tamarama in 1990. Surprisingly, her French-inspired dryclean only lingerie became a huge hit. The lingerie was incredibly detailed and hand embroidered in India by highly skilled craftsmen.
In 1992, she opened her first retail store in William Street, Paddington, Sydney. It became the go-to destination for beautiful lingerie style dresses, delicate lace pieces and amazing prints. Soon the store built a strong following and she started exporting to New York (Barney's), London(Harvey Nichols) and Hong Kong.
In 1995, she opened her second store at Chapel Street, South Yarra, Melbourne.
She became a member of the Chambre Syndicale Committee, in 1995, and an advisor to the South Australian Wool Board, in 1997.
In 1998, she was appointed as the Chairperson of the NSW Small Business Development Corporation.
In 2000, as a celebration of her 10 years in the industry, she opened her third retail store in Chelsea, London.
In 2002, UK's super-retailer 'Marks & Spencer' invited Collette to create a branded collection of lingerie exclusively for their stores. The collection was named 'Wild Hearts' and gave impressive results.
In 2004, she launched the 'Collette Dinnigan Enfant' collection. This collection was inspired by the birth of her daughter Estella. In 2007, came out the 'Collette Dinnigan Bridal' collection.
In 2010, to mark her 20 years in the industry, she launched a diffusion collection called 'Collette'. The collection was stocked at over 100 retailers globally.
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In 2012, on the Australian Ballet's 50th Anniversary she launched a collaborated range of Tutu's to be sold at 'Target' stores. The proceeds were donated to the Australian Ballet Kids Education Program.
In 2013, she became the first Australian designer to show in Singapore's 'Audi Fashion Festival'. She opened the week alongside designers Carolina Herrara and Peter Pilotto.
On October 29, 2013 she announced her retirement from Paris Fashion Week. She also declared to downsize her retail and wholesale operations, opting to focus on licensing and special projects - primarily in Australia. The reason stated was that she wanted to spend quality time with her family.
In 1995, she became the 'first-and-only-Australian' designer to participate on request by 'Chambre Syndicale du Pret a Porter des Couturiers et des Createurs de Mode' in the Paris’ Prêt-a-Porter (ready-to-wear) Fashion Week and launch a ready-to-wear collection as well.
Awards & Achievements
In 1997, she was awarded the 'Louis Vuitton Business Award'.
In 1998, she was inducted in the 'Australia Businesswomen's Hall of Fame'.
In 2012, the New South Wales Government honoured her with the 5th Australian Fashion Laureate Award.
She was honoured by the New Zealand's Massey University Hall of Fame.
Personal Life & Legacy
Collette dated Richard Wilkins and has a daughter named Estella with him.
She married Bradley Cocks in a private ceremony on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Cocks is a Canadian Entrepreneur, with a luxury hotel business around the world. They have a son.
In 2005, Australia Post issued a stamp featuring Collette Dinnigan.
She was one of the five Australians to be invited to meet Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace.
Collette Dinnigan has an estimated net worth of $21 million.