Sunday, October 5, 2008

Collette Dinnigan's three strikes on

collette dinnigan SS09/

Critics, at the end of the day, voice personal opinions and I must admit there are many times when I don’t necessarily agree with some of the reviews on major fashion sites such as or The New York Times. Critics also don’t buy the clothes. Retail buyers - and of course consumers – buy the clothes. And critics and buyers often have quite different viewpoints on runway collections. That said, I can’t help thinking that Collette Dinnigan won’t be taking too kindly to the review of her SS09 show in Paris yesterday. To make matters worse, it’s Dinnigan’s third bad review on that site.

Notes Nicole Phelps today:

“There was a little black dress midway through Collette Dinnigan's show that reminded people who've followed her career of the early days. The frock's peekaboo-lace back echoed the lingerie-inspired dresses with which she made her name in the nineties. It would've been a good look upon which to build her Spring collection. As it was, it was just a (welcome) blip among many other pleasant but less distinctive dresses, some densely embroidered in metallic paillettes or studs, others cut in a filmy white chiffon with a violet butterfly print. Military touches on jackets struck a timely note, but there wasn't enough here to distinguish the clothes from those found in the contemporary collections seen on the runways of New York. In fact, that might be a good venue for this commercially oriented designer”.

Reviewing Dinnigan's previous FW0809 collection Phelps wrote in March:

“It's the last day of Paris, and if people aren't preoccupied with plotting their exit strategies, they're tallying up the season's strongest shows and asking questions about what it all means. It's not a good day for the Aussie designer Collette Dinnigan to present her modest collection. There are simply too many reasons to overlook it, and Dinnigan's first job should be to address that issue before another season passes”.

And here is what Phelps wrote reviewing the SS08 collection:

“Does Dinnigan, who was on the runway for the second time after a comeback last season, have the goods to compete on the Paris stage? Not yet, and not unless she returns with a collection that has some actual fashion in it”.

Upon Dinnigan's return to the Paris runways in March last year, after a one year hiatus, I blogged the show and an interview on

The post included reference to one 2006 Sydney Morning Herald news story in which I had reported the industry speculation which had initially followed the news of Dinnigan's decision to take time off to raise her new baby.

At the time, retail sources speculated that Dinnigan may have been dropped by the Paris organising body because she wasn’t pulling her weight in publicity (publicity beyond Australia, that is - where Dinnigan's publicity is almost invariably uncritical).

The Chambre Syndicale denied it - and of course Dinnigan has been back on the Paris schedule now for four seasons.

Part of Dinnigan’s problem, in my humble opinion, lies in the fact that she not only continues to show in the claustrophobic underground Carousel du Louvre venue, but at a time when a major ennui has descended on the fashion caravan (not to mention the media at large) after buyers and media reps have been on the road for four weeks following the season.

Dinnigan moved her time slot to Saturday this season, but it does not look to have won her many favours, at least in's view. What does WWD have to say about the show? One sentence.

Then there’s the runway collection. Not to mention the show.

Dinnigan has a great brand and she gives good glamour, via both her signature beaded lace cocktail dresses and the longer eveningwear. And she is capable of putting on a sensational presentation.

Dinnigan should try to come up with a fresh new strategy for FW0910. The 'first Australian designer to show on schedule in Paris' schtick has worn thin. In spite of's criticism that Dinnigan is a "commercially-oriented designer" - which must sting, because Dinnigan has long traded off the idea of the Parisian fashion fantasy - New York is not such a bad idea. At least for a change of pace.

Yes the New York event is an absolute monster however Dinnigan is a well established brand, the American market is an intrinsic component of her business, the New York shows take place at the very start of the season and furthermore, they are infested with the kind of celebrities who like to wear her clothes. Dinnigan would presumably be able to leverage considerable star power there.

Last but not least, never put your showroom on the runway. It's about the brand - not bread-and-butter.


Anonymous said...

As an Australian I should be supporting an Aussie label but I hate to say it but I agree with :(

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