TO LOVE AND CHERISH
COLLETTE DINNIGAN’S wedding in Positano, Italy, was an impromptu, lowkey affair — much like her simple but meaningful wedding dress, she writes
JUST BEFORE I MET BRADLEY [Cocks, Dinnigan’s husband], I was a single mother with a three-year-old daughter and a very, very busy life. Estella and I were travelling three times a year to my store in London, to Paris, and, often, New York and India, and because she wasn’t in school yet, she was with me all the time, by my side. I was working very hard and usually for a good six days a week.and then I met Bradley.
He said, “Let’s go for lunch”, and I thought, What do you mean, lunch? I’m working.
Bradley loved Estella straight away — he is fantastic with children — and he began to do trips with us and we’d try to work them out together. If I worked on Saturdays, he’d often take her swimming or we would go down to Milton [on the New South Wales South Coast] and I would work from there.
He proposed to me on New Year’s Eve. We decided to elope and we were married in July. It felt right to me because I have had so many events associated with my brand, events for customers, Paris fashion weeks and so many after-parties. There were always a lot of parties in my life; a lot of people and a lot of invitations and name cards.
Some brides want it to be their big day, with everyone looking at them, but for me it was just about us. It was about intimacy. And also, where do you draw the line with the guest list? Because we have so many friends in the industry and I didn’t want it to be a ‘thing’. It was just me, Bradley and Estella … and David Loftus, who came over to photograph the wedding for us.at that stage, Bradley had only known him for half an hour, but he was our best man.
It wasn’t like I’d been dreaming of a dress. I guess when you do so many wedding dresses you’re not that interested in your own. Honestly, I wasn’t even going to worry. I was going to wear one of the beautiful long embroidered linen dresses I already had, but I am so glad now that I made something a little more heirloom. I’d been working in India the week before, and when I told the beaders I was getting married the next week, they immediately decided they had to make a dress for me. It was clear it was pretty impossible. But they found some of my silk tulle and old ribbon and thought we should try to do something. So we did. I spent one day in the showroom and made a pattern, drew it on some calico and cut it up. I did my measurements, and then they spent a whole week embroidering it. The first time I tried it on was in Positano the day before the wedding, and you know what? It wasn’t quite right!
I had to shorten the sleeves and take it in under the bust overnight, and I thought the neck was too high, but, in fact, I liked that in the end. Estella wore one of my own white dresses and the dress that Alice (a friend of the family who helps with Estella) wore was a dress actually made for Naomi Watts, who was a bridesmaid at [film publicist] Emma Cooper’s wedding.
When I think of my dress, I remember it being effortless, easy and comfortable. that day was 40 degrees and we were all just dripping, I can’t tell you — it was one of those hot, windy Positano days.when you’re on the coast, you can never have anything big and puffy and grand — I think it always has to have a bit of an ethereal quality to it, and that dress has it.with all the beautiful old vintage ribbons embroidered on, it’s kind of timeless, in a way.
I never put my dress into production. No one ever saw the dress, so no one ever knew it existed. I have kept it, though. [The dress was part of the recent exhibition Love Is … at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.] I’m not sure Estella will want to wear it — she’s not into dresses right now, but I have kept a few I think maybe she might like one day.the whole idea was that Estella was right there, as part of the celebration, not just Bradley and I.WE let her choose the wedding cake — Nutella cake — and although she had never been allowed lemonade, she had a bottle that day, I had a bottle of Dom Pérignon and Bradley had his bottle of Ruinart.
Afterwards, we got changed in the toilets in the town hall, walked down the stairs, got on a beautiful boat and went on to Fontelina in Capri for lunch. We went swimming in the grotto, jumping off the side of the boat, and it was all completely authentic, with big bowls of spaghetti bolognese for lunch. It was just all our favourite things in life, and we couldn’t have been happier. It couldn’t have been better — or more relaxed.
“When you’re on the coast, you can never have anything big and puffy and grand — I think [the dress] always has to have a bit of an ethereal quality to it.”
Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, wearing a dress of her own design, on her wedding day with husband Bradley Cocks and daughter Estella.