12 Nov



It all began in 1992 on William Street in Sydney’s iconic suburb of Paddington. When I refer to ‘IT’, it was the beginning of Collette Dinnigan’s stellar career as a world-class fashion designer. Dinnigan’s distinctive craftsmanship of lace, embellished and romantic designs, are truly unique. She is also known for revolutionising the lingerie industry in the 1990’s, although ironically her designs were not received well by the Australian community. With a strong influence of period-costumes and French-inspired underwear in the early days, before she knew it she was being presented with a Louis Vuitton Business Award and being inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame. Dinnigan was being invited to show at Paris Fashion Week, as well as dressing celebrities on the red carpet, including: Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchett. This design icon is also passionate about clean practice and very environmentally aware. 


“Another collection, another show… it wasn’t what was motivating me anymore”, Dinnigan said. Just over two years ago to the surprise of the fashion industry and her wider following, Dinnigan announced she was pulling back from her global fashion empire. With a young family the timing of her recent exhibition launch of Unlaced, a collaboration with Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, couldn’t be more poetic. It’s a reflective and emotional time for Dinnigan, as she takes us down memory lane. Dinnigan has worked closely for two years with the museum’s curators and I have no doubt it has been a poignant journey for her.

When I interviewed Dinnigan back in 2014, we spoke about one of the biggest influences on her life – her mother. She spoke fondly about how kind, generous, caring, artistic she was, and that she insisted she believed that anything was possible. As a new mother myself, this reflection left me feeling bittersweet after learning Dinnigan made the announcement to pull back from her internationally celebrated label on her mother’s birthday, 20 years after she passed. Quoted as saying “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”, this once again resonates (on a much smaller scale!) my own battles with achieving a work/family balance. Not wanting to waste one moment spent with her children and family, her courageous decision I’m sure was not one also made without great sadness.


Dinnigan’s Unlaced exhibition covers her 25 year career in the industry and features over 100 garments and some incredible installations. The exhibition showcases her signature lingerie, bridal wear, ready-to-wear, resort collections and some never-before-seen pieces and accessories from her personal archive. In addition to this wide array of pieces, the dramatic catwalk presentation also provides a small insight into Dinnigan’s creative process, through a series of striking mood boards and emotive installations.

MAAS and Dinnigan have collaborated with award-winning stage, costume designer and installation artist, Anna Tregloan. As a team they have styled and designed the exhibition, embracing all of Dinnigan’s trademark aesthetics. You will be taken on a journey of her inspirations, which includes: film, music, photography, history, vintage ceramics, jewellery and fabrics. The exhibition also encapsulates her love (and mine!) of materials including tulle, chiffon and lace, as well as her love of the female form and every woman’s own sense of sensuality and confidence.

This is absolutely one of THOSE exhbitions that you really must see and fashion history in the making.


5th September 2015 – 28th August 2016 at the Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007. For more info and bookings, head to WWW >

COMPETITION TIME! To mark this incredible honour in style (of course!) we are giving you the chance to win one of two incredible prizes! The major prize is 1 x double pass for you and a friend to attend a private, guided tour of the exhibition! Plus, you’ll also receive a signed copy of Collette’s coffee table book, ‘Obsessive Creative’ (which itself is valued at $100). The runner up will receive 1 x double pass for you and a friend to attend a private, guided tour of the exhibition!
These prizes are pretty massive – the Powerhouse Museum are especially giving the winner an access-all-areas pass which almost never happens.

All you have to do is post a photo of yourself in your favourite Collette outfit (it can be an old photo – we love a trip down memory lane) on Instagram with the hashtag #iweardinnigan.  Make sure you tag us (@sheis_sarahjane) too so that we can see your entry! Entries close 12th November, so get snapping!