Thursday, July 22, 2010 10:30 PM
I needn’t have worried; Collette is friendly, warm and humble, unlike some other high profile fashion people I have interviewed in the past, so the time spent with her was a delight. I don’t think she could have cared if I’d interviewed her dressed in a paper bag as long as I was asking relevant questions. So next time I might just try that and save myself a lot of anguish.
This time I wore colourful New Zealand designers: a silk velvet red jacket by Andrea Moore and a stunning silk floral Monet dress by Marilyn Seyb. At least I think it was called Monet – it might have been called Gauguin – I bought it ages ago!
The woman herself was beautifully turned out (though I am not a personal fan of black on black, it suited her and is very much the uniform of the fashion elite). She was wearing a stunning tulip skirted black shift for the Farmers show, with black hosiery and high black suede platform booties, and for the interview a silk black with white polka dot dress with divine silk and tulle ruffles on the bottom, and black opaque’s and the suede platform booties. She is a naturally beautiful woman, very elegant and very tall. Even, I imagine, without the platforms. She looked right at home standing with the models, and you can imagine that in another incarnation, she might have been one herself.
We talked at length off camera about the breed of people today whose life ambition is fame and celebrity. I wondered if they haven't considered the lack of privacy that comes with that and what a high price that is to pay, and Collette wondered why people are so much less interested in working hard and developing their talent. She didn't get in this game to be famous. She just wanted to be really really good at what she does.
She was very almost not a fashion designer, having enrolled into a whole different course (graphic design), at Wellington polytechnic, but getting accepted into her second choice instead. For the first day of class she was left wondering why they were talking about needle and thread. Luckily for us, fate had well and truly intervened and she has gone on to design some of the most exquisitely beaded and detailed garments, bespoke pieces that are hand cut and hand made, worn by many of Hollywood and the Worlds most beautiful women, including Elle Macpherson, Naomi Watts, Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie, although she’d very much like to dress Vanessa Paradis (Johnny Depps partner).
In New Zealand to launch her lingerie range: Collette by Collette Dinnigan being sold exclusively at Farmers, the interview with Collette was held in Mollies Boutique hotel in Auckland – which was the perfect backdrop for the range. Warm open fires, complete with Burmese cats lying gracefully yet carelessly in front of the flames as only cats can. (I’m coming back as a cat that lives at Mollies please God). Off camera Collette shared that she had two Burmese herself Woosie, (a bit of a woose and Collette’s favourite, who sadly passed on recently) and Weber, named because Collette was given the choice of having either a BBQ or a cat. She chose the cat and named it after the BBQ. Weber is a bit of a biter, much like one of my own cats, but we love them all the same. Animal lover Collette even considered being either a vet or a marine biologist because of her affinity for animals and her time spent living on the sea as a child. Funnily enough an animal was nearly the end of her: while swimming off the family’s boat with her brother, their parents were pulling them aboard the high sided vessel when a huge white pointer shark fancied Collette as a tasty dish for dinner, her father pulling her aboard just in time. Perhaps that early brush with death is partly responsible for her drive and ambition.
After seeing the range beautifully modelled in a fashion show at Farmers Albany yesterday I’ll be first in the fittings rooms at Farmers this week to try it all on. If like me you are a fan of old school Hollywood glamour, Vargas pin ups, vintage 40’s prints, feminine lace and silk, and animal print then this range will impress you too. The cuts are decidedly wearable, briefs, g-strings and boy leg pants complimented by full cup, plunge cuts and balconette cup bras to suit all body shapes, as well as divine chemises that are way too cute to keep covered up. The range is elegant, affordable and attainable – with Farmers being nationwide, their buying power assures the product is at a great price point: the top price for a bra is $59 and knickers for $19. Farmers has never stocked silk lingerie before so this is a first and the good news is that the range is machine washable – just promise me you’ll pop it in a garment bag first.
p.s Being a complete shoe-aholic I couldn't help but be distracted by the swarovski encrusted high heels that the models wore at the parade. I found out afterwards that they were Collette's own range, from a few seasons ago. A magpies dream, each pair that came out were more be-jewelled than the last. I was in sparkly shoe heaven.