Forty eight Mars Bars: that's how many confections the models requested backstage at the Collette Dinnigan Resort show on Saturday night. And let me tell you - considering we were eye-balling them in skimpy frocks and swimwear mere minutes later I'm not sure where the handful of pretty young things put them. But there you have it; I guess those lanky lasses like to work, rest and play. This tasty tidbit of information came to me by way of Michael Shah, the incredibly adept general manager of Qualia, the luxury resort where the event was held as part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week over the weekend. The parade is the event on the race calendar every year (unless you count the actual sailing of course) and is next-level luxury – think oyster bar, free flowing champagne and Asher Keddie in the frow - the entire thing framed by a Great Barrier Reef sunset on Qualia's Pebble Beach. TheEDIT were lucky enough to snag a seat and holy schmoley, it's fair to say long-time sponsor Audi put on a rip-snorter of a show (not the official term they used of course, but fitting nonetheless).
Once seated, we were entertained with some tête-à-tête between Sandra Sully and Audi CEO Uwe Hagen (the most genial CEO the world has ever produced - he rocks a 70s mo' with as much aplomb as Selleck and has comedic timing like a fox) so to say this wasn't your usual fashion show would be a gross understatement. The clothes that sashayed out from behind the palm tree-printed backdrop would probably best be described as a raspberry bellini re-imagined in lace and silk - from the hot pink floor-skimming frock with embellished shoulder to lemony cocktail-length number and tangy orange 70s-inspired swim separates that opened the show, it was just about the most playful thing I've ever seen Collette present.
Of course, her colourful mood might have something to do with the fact she's having a pretty good year – what with being awarded with the Australian Fashion Laureate, announcing her second pregnancy, getting married to her baby daddy Bradley Cocks, and launching her first official swimwear collection - how she finds the time to actually design any clothes I'm not sure. So I went backstage to find out - and of course steal a Mars Bar. Here's what I saw...
I also sat down with the designer to find out how she fits it all in (and what she thinks about all the fuss surrouding her bump).
This is your 7th year at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – and your show is arguably the highlight of the calendar – what's new this year?
We're so lucky tonight with the weather! And you're right - when we first started showing there was just such a demand from people and the media wanting to come and it's become much more of a social calendar week. But you can never be a veteran of something, you always try to do something different and try and surprise people. I also love doing the cruise collection, it's one of my favourites - it's not a typical collection or something we could show in Paris. It's more about feel good, look good, bold colours, exotic travel destinations – and this is exactly where you should be seeing something like this, at sunset down on the beach. Tonight will be all about romance and colour.
Tell us about the swim collection which will feature in the show?
David Jones have already bought it, it'll be in all of their stores - it's $180 for a bikini and it's fun. It's prints and good shapes - a slight '70s take on triangle bikinis and then moving into '50s and '60s shapes as well.
You design all your own fabrics, prints and embellishments – is that part of what makes a Dinnigan piece so special?
My textiles are something I love - I'm a craftsperson, I love the touch and feel and colour and print, so I work a lot on that. And we do all the prints in-house graphically which means I need to design them beforehand – it's like being a textile designer and creating your collection from that. Which adds another three months onto the collection but I think that's what makes it different and special. Unless you use good quality basics like French lace and Czechoslovakian beading, you can get the look but you'll never get the feel.
So “Collette Dinnigan pregnant” is one of the first things that comes up when you Google your name – why do you think there's no much interest?
I did see that there were a lot of articles written, especially in America, about me being pregnant. Even when I was pregnant with Estella the first time I was actually hounded for first photos of me pregnant and first photos of the baby and it's very confronting as a new mum – it's such an intimate and personal time. But I think this time round it's because a lot of people are very interested in my age - there's a misconception that women in their 40s can't get pregnant which isn't true and I think there's a real lack of education, especially in Australia, about fertility. There's so much focus on our careers and women succeeding in business that we forget to talk about the fact that family is just as important.
It's been a whopper of a year for you, what's next?
There's a lot in the pipeline – in September we'll be launching a bridal lingerie collection, it's what I've called our Silk Trousseau collection - lots of silk garters, quite simple, and corsets with low V-backs so a lot of our brides who have bought of the low plunging wedding dress can find a corset that goes with it and doesn't feel like a huge, bondage number with heavy straps. They'll be in stores next month.
And how do you see the future of resortwear in Australia?
I've been pushing for the last seven years or so for fashion week to be a resort week – there are so many brands doing swimwear and great colourful prints – and if we show it at end of May it fits into the international calendar. When we started 16 years ago, it was an American thing, then Europe started - now Chanel and Chloe do resort collections. Given our lifestyle and weather, it's perfect for us.
And you know what else was perfect? The show! Holy schmoley - does it make you crave summer more than the smell of coconut body balm or what?!
Couldn't you just eat it all with a gelato spoon? You can find out where to yours right here.