Australian designer Dinnigan calls it quits

Australian designer Dinnigan calls it quits

SYDNEY - Australian fashion designer Collette Dinnigan has called it quits after 24 years in the business, closing her global boutiques to devote more time to her young family.

Dinnigan, so far the only Australian designer to be invited to show on the exclusive Paris ready-to-wear circuit, made the announcement in a handwritten letter to her supporters late Tuesday.

"After 24 years of design, countless collections and shows I have decided to take a break and be with my family," said Dinnigan, 48, adding that it was a decision taken with a "heavy heart".

"Over the past 12 months I have been thinking very deeply about all the time and effort that goes into running a brand like Collette Dinnigan and I have decided to focus my energy on my family. Personally, I know that I need balance in my life."

South Africa-born Dinnigan is one of Australia's best-known fashion names, having dressed celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue and Naomi Watts since bursting onto the Paris fashion scene in 1995.

She will shut her Sydney, Melbourne and London boutiques, wind up her bridal business and cease showing in Paris, though two department store lines - "Collette by Collette Dinnigan" and "Collette Dinnigan Enfant" - will continue production.

"I could have sold the brands and made a lot of money but that is not what I believe in, that is not what I envisioned for the brands I created. I wanted to maintain the integrity of the brands and I believe this is the best way to do that," Dinnigan told Australian media.

She made the announcement on her late mother's birthday, saying she did not want to miss any more "special moments" with her own two children due to the "relentless" global fashion business.

"I plan on spending as much time with them as I possibly can," she said of her children, who are aged nine and one.

Tough economic times have forced other top-end Australian designers such as Lisa Ho out of business but Dinnigan insisted that she was not in financial strife.

After years seeking an investment partner to help her expand the business, Dinnigan said she had been unable to find "the right fit" and decided that winding up was her best option.

"People like to speculate that something must be wrong, or that we are in trouble, but it is not that at all. It is about me being able to make a decision about the brands which respects their value," she said.

Most of Dinnigan's 50 employees will reportedly lose their jobs by the end of the year.

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