Collette Dinnigan chooses family over career

Collette Dinnigan, the Australian Financial Review reports, will close her boutique stores in Sydney, Melbourne and London and will cease production of her internationally sought after, high-end bridal and evening wear – a move that will affect more than 50 staff members.

The news comes hot on the heels of Dinnigan’s well-received Paris fashion show earlier this month. The designer is known for her twice-yearly shows in the French capital, which she first began in 1995.

The 48-year-old reportedly insists that, unlike other Australian designers who have shut up shop recently, her decision is not based on any financial trouble. In fact the designer told reporters business is still very profitable and without any debt.

So why has Dinnigan decided to close shop?

“I am not closing for financial reasons, at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with it,” the designer insisted.  “This is about finding a way to spend more time with my family,” Dinnigan told reporters.

The working mother of two, who gave birth to her second child only last November said she needed more time with her children – her son Hunter turns one next month and daughter Estella is nine. Dinnigan was apparently crestfallen after returning home from her recent show in Paris to find her baby son hardly recognised her.

“Before Paris I was working seven days a week, I’d see him in the morning and not see him until the next morning again, and that happened for four weeks. Then I went to Paris and he almost didn’t know me when I got back,” Dinnigan said. “ I got back for five days and was on a plane again to Hong Kong. And that was when I went, ‘hang on’. And it has to happen, you have to give it that kind of energy, you can’t just be half pie, or at least I couldn’t.”

But the designer has maintained 100 per cent ownership of the brand she began more than two decades ago. She will continue, “for now”, with the parts of the business that require her to design only and where production and retailing is handled elsewhere.

Her difussion label colette and children’s label, Collette Dinnigan Enfant, will also be manufactured offshore and sold only in department stores such as David Jones and Neiman Marcus or online.  Dinnigan  will also continue her partnership with Specsavers, for which she will launch a prescription sunglasses range early next year, as well as a hosiery line for David Jones

Only this month, Dinnigan featured prominently in a 10-page feature story for a well-known Australian fashion publication celebrating her creative lifestyle and her recent delve into books and publishing. She cited the publication of her book, Obsessive Creative, as a factor in the decision to close down.

“I almost feel the publication of my book was a catalyst,” she said. “The book is a retrospective of my life and it’s made me stop and think about the amazing journey I have had thus far. It crystallised my thinking,” Dinnigan added.

In a statement released this morning Dinnigan said: “I have sacrificed a lot of family time in building and maintaining my business. Now I want balance back in my life with my husband, nine-year-old daughter and baby boy”.

“I have met and worked with some of the world’s most talented people, as well as realising my own creativity while driving a financially viable, profitable business. I truly feel blessed,” she added.

Deeta Colvin, Dinnigan’s publicist, said the deisgner’s decision to close had been “a very difficult one, as she is incredibly passionate about design and her entire business, including all of the people within it, but the hours and travel required to sustain what is necessary to run such a successful international company doesn’t allow for the time she and her family need.”

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Freedom and flares

The New Zealand Fashion Museum exhibition Age of Aquarius showcases more than 60 pieces including menswear from established designer labels including Hullabaloo and Miss Deb, as well as small independent labels of the era including Black Sheep by Mary-Jane and Phil O’Reilly who are pictured here modelling their own creations.

The couple began making denim in London as a way to earn money while Mary-Jane, formerly of Limbs, completed a dance scholarship with the Royal Ballet in the early 70s. On their return to New Zealand in 1974 they began selling their wares at the Cook Street Markets, Auckland.

Phil, a graphic designer did the design work and made and applied all the hardware to the denim and Mary-Jane did the sewing. The garments were distinguished with quirky branding including a leather label stamped by Phil himself. The denim jeans, skirts, dungarees, vests and bags all came with an authentication certificate and they also screen printed T-shirts with the certificate.

Age of Aquarius is being held on the ground floor of the Geyser Building, 100 Parnell Road, Auckland where it will be showcased alongside 1970s era furniture.

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