After my bits and pieces post last week, many of the comments on the post revolved around highlighting the new Collette Dinnigan book, Obsessive Creative, and about her beautiful clothes... the remains of which have sold out nationally after she announced she was closing down three weeks ago.

After Romy posted her retrospective of the eight Collette Dinnigan frocks that she owns on her blog Diary of a Hobart Housewife, I felt inspired to do the same.

Here I am last year at my Surprise Birthday Party wearing my 13 year old Collette Dinnigan engagement party dress. It's also one of my few sequinned dresses.


There is a little back story to the dress. When Mr AV and I were newly engaged, we had just finished studying and moved to Melbourne and started in our first jobs. We were 25, we had no money. Our engagement party was looming, and I was, naturally enough, feeling desperate to buy a dress to wear to the cocktail party my soon to be In Laws were hosting with all our family and friends present.

Mr AV and his friend were having a night out on the town, when I received a phone call at home at 2am. This is not something you ever wish to have happen, and my immediate fears were realised. He had been at the Casino. But, this had a happy ending. Mr AV had put all his money ($50) on his birthdate on the roulette wheel. And his number came up. He whispered to me down the phone "I've won $1,500". Immediately, I snapped out of my sleep coma and commanded him "leave the Casino immediately. Do not gamble any more money. Come straight home". He did as he was told, and has never gambled since - figuring that he was up on the Casinos, and any subsequent gambling would bring him back down. Magnanimously he gave me $600 to go and buy a new dress - a total splurge for us at the time, as we were both earning a pittance.

So, I made a beeline for the Collette Dinnigan boutique that weekend, and found my dress reduced to $580. It made its debut at our Engagement party, and subsequently attended quite a few friend's weddings, cocktail functions for work, black tie dinners and Charity balls.

And that is the story of my one Collette Dinnigan dress. I never said it was going to be such a long retrospective as Romy's! Sadly the mortgage/renovation induced poverty prevented me from buying any further dresses for the next 5 years, and after that pregnancy and babies and a changing size were a good dissuader from any further purchases.



But today, I found myself with an hour in the city running a few errands... and somehow ended up trawling through the racks at David Jones to see what they had left. There is a bit of a Collette Dinnigan graveyard in Adelaide's DJ's - the racks might be bare in Melbourne and Sydney, but it's a jackpot in Adelaide. I tried on 6 dresses, and here they are:


This one looked really beautiful on - lovely beading 


silk day dress 

French lace 

Black and navy lace with a sequinned belt 

 thick white linen with heavy beading and whitework embroidery

silk maxi dress with cobalt blue beading on the waist and neckline

Now, Mr AV has forbidden me from buying any further dresses. For some reason he thinks that I have enough already. Plus, we're leeching money for the renovations at the moment. So I haven't bought any. But I might, infact, have layby'd two (that is not buying really....), ready to pick up in January when I'm hopeful he'll be in a better mood (either that, or I'll be sadly returning them... thank you DJ's for your generous layby and returns policy). Can you guess which ones?

40 comments:

  1. Love the story of your engagement dress Heidi. That black one with the navy lace looks stunning on you.

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    1. Thanks Kris! The black with navy lace is one of the layby's... it was a perfect fit (a few of the others were just a bit off). xx

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  2. Love it!!
    I reckon blue and white plus the navy blue lace dress?? Do I win anything besides my amateur degree of psychological profiling?

    It's funny how you just happened to find yourself at DJ's dress det instead of say their wrench and screwdriver dept...:)

    Oh yes nd that's the reason why I can't get rid of dresses for each one has a backstory not as fun as yours but still...

    I think you should buy the lot in any case and you can sell it later on eBay! Fun post xx

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    1. ah, but which blue and white?? No prizes for guessing I'm afraid.. and yes, it was quite spooky that I was lead straight to the Collette Dinnigan rack, rather than to other, less interesting departments!!
      The engagement party dress I could never get rid of. I used to call it my Disco Dress, due to the sequins (as they're all multicoloured). There's actually still quite a lot of CD still washing around - her website has a lot of new stuff on it. xx

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  3. Blue and white day but not maxi one to clarify.

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    1. No! I got the maxi. While I don't wear Maxis much (at all, I have one), this one was beautiful on - the day dress didn't actually suit me that much. Looked a bit frumpy on with the fit (shoulders too wide, and a bit of a missfit on the top). xx

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    2. Shoot! I did hesitate thinking you would go for a different silhouette! Love a maxi as it is perfect schleppy wear but doesn't look it. You will get a lot of wear out of those!

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    3. I also guessed the blue and white silk day dress, in the photograph it looks fabulous on you! But I did get the other one right, just knew you'd have chosen the black and navy lace. Wonderful dress - glamorous and feminine (love the lace) and at the same time very chic and sophisticated and perfect for evening things. It's so you. I'm wondering if you shouldn't rush back though and layby the blue and white silk day too, it's very beautiful and a good dressmaker might be able to adjust? Of course, layby isn't buying. All girls know that. At least not until the final payment, it's not!
      Seeing all these beauties makes me feel so sad that Collette D is leaving all this behind. She really was a wonderful designer - and such beautiful fabrics too.
      Love your husband's casino story. I did something similar once years ago on a work trip to Noumea. My hotel had a casino and guests were given free vouchers for a flutter. I went after a dinner with another visiting Aussie guest. He'd never been to a casino before and thought I was experienced
      because I'd had a little flutter at the tables in the Gold Coast Casino when it first opened (and also once in Monte Carlo years before). So he asked me to lead the way and he'd just watch to begin with. We converted our vouchers to chips and went to the roulette table. I put one chip on my lucky number (winnings were 35 to 1, I think). It came up, first go. He was impressed. So next time he followed me and placed a chip on the same square as mine. It came up again! So we both won. Then he asked what I was going to do next and was so disappointed when I told him I was now cashing in as I'd almost certainly never win again. Won quite a bit and had never outlaid any money of my own. Before I left Noumea, visited one of the nicer French boutiques and did some shopping, including two lovely ties for G. But there were no Collette Dinnigan shops! Don't think I've gambled at a casino since. Must think along the same lines as your husband.
      Loved your CD engagement dress. Obviously been worn with love and so perfectly suitable - as your new ones will be. Vive DJs Adelaide! Pamela xx

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    4. I guessed maxi because even though it isn't your usual, it fits perfectly and looks more formal than the typical maxi. :)

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    5. ah the gold coast casino ask Jupiters I was there on its opening night my first visit to a "legal " casino and of course I had visions of Monte Carlo in my head...it was not to be

      "Oh goody "another casino for Sydney is on the way

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    6. oh Pamela I enjoyed your story on AV's previous blog regarding the grand English house

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    7. Pamela - well done on your winnings, and sensible spending of same! The day dress really didn't look great on. It might be appearing better than it was in the photo... I think it would be a case of throwing good money after bad with it, which is a pity as I think I would've worn it a lot as I do love the colour. But the maxi was really pretty on, and I think I could wear it a fair bit (lots of 40ths coming up next year).
      smr - know what you mean about casinos... the Adelaide one used to be so posh you couldn't wear sandals (even dressy ones) in there... now its just full of sad types in tracksuit pants.

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    8. Sorry to hear it didn't work - it really looks beautiful. But if a dress doesn't work, it doesn't work. At CD prices I do admit, you have to love it. But the others will be superb.
      Yes, the Gold Coast casino was like that too at the start. Slightly posh for the Gold Coast, which kind of means no thongs (of the foot kind) - and of course never like Monte Carlo. We went back some years later and it was completely dreaders. The cocktail bar seats were all badly stained. People in track suits and poor little kids left to amuse themselves (no adult supervision) on the perimeter of the gambling area - where they couldn't really be seen by their parents. It also reeked so badly of cigarette smoke I could hardly breathe. So we didn't stay and have never gone back. We're not really casino types as I am only prepared to lose a very small amount of money, G too. Shopping in the great stores of course is an entirely different matter. Pamela

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  4. What a great stroke of fortune Mr AV had! So glad he hasn't gambled again since!
    I love the blue prints - both the support and long look stunning....
    Glad you got the navy blue lace. It's the sort of dress that would be good for a smart lunch or cocktails, depending on how you styled it.
    Hmmm not sure I can which other one you laybuyed, but I sort of hope one of the prints.
    I didn't know that DJs did lay-buy. Very clever of you to get them now, as by Jan you'll need some new frocks! Shame you couldn't get one for New Year, though.....

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    1. It's the long print maxi - DJ's do layby, very generous terms too - 2 months layby, and then you can still return things after they've been picked up (and if they're on sale, potentially rebuy them...) xx

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  5. Heidi, that is a lovely story, I still have the dress I wore the night I might hubs all £18 worth!
    I got rid of most of my dresses a few years ago, I don't really dress up much and they were all tight, of course I have an invite this weekend and flipping nothing to wear.

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    1. Love you've kept the cheapo dress. I really do think clothes tell a story.
      Good luck hunting something down to wear this weekend... I hate feeling regrets over things I've tossed xx

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  6. Such pretty dresses. Your picks are the perfect ones. So hard to find nice frocks anymore and these are just the right length and beautiful looking fabrics. What does MrAV mean too many dresses, how silly!

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    1. Mr AV comes out with some craaaaazy statements sometimes Dani! He also tried to once tell me that he should have an equal amount of space on the shoe shelves, as I had! Imagine! xx

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  7. I guessed the maxi and the black w/ navy lace! Both are gorgeous on you. I hope you get to keep them (drop strong hints for Christmas!). Great story with your first Colette Dinnigan dress!!

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    1. I shall have to assess the mood correctly Louise! Hopefully with things drawing to a close, he'll be feeling more inclined to accommodate an expanded dress section in my wardrobe! xx

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  8. The maxi is gorgeous so glad you bought it ..oops "not bought it " .

    Love the casino story ..my first thought was how great it was that Mr AV shared his winnings ...this probably tells you a bit about my experiences with men and money.

    To end on a positive note..have a great weekend

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    1. Oh no - I haven't bought it at all. I'll buy them in January!
      Mr AV was always generous with his money, one thing that actually impressed me early on as I was so used to guys that would insist on splitting every bill down to the last cent.
      Have a great weekend too smr! xx

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  9. Love all the dresses but the navy lace one is my favourite.

    Loved the casino win story. I have only won once and it was quite spectacular as it was on a poker machine and all the lights flashed and I won $480. In $2 coins... Hilarious as the coins fell out all over my feet! I had no real bag so eventually a kind security guard brought me a bucket to carry them to the cash desk. Like Mr AV I then departed the casino.

    There is no glamour at all at the casino in Perth. Actually just a bit of a sad-looking place.

    Enjoy your weekend.

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    1. Ha - the bucket of coins is such a vegas look T - you'll have to tour the slots there next time you hit the States!!
      I think Casinos everywhere are depressing places, unless you're in Monte Carlo. I always felt sickened looking at the amounts people were betting at the Melbourne Casino - and of course losing too...
      Have a good weekend xx

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    2. The embarrassment of carrying a bucket of coins across the gaming floor was only just worth the $480 dollars....

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  10. love your 2 choices. Also love a happy ending to a 2am wake up call x

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    1. Oh yes, I totally agree.. it's usually never a good thing to hear the phone ringing at that time! xx

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  11. See! All CD frocks have a story.....can't wait to be regaled with the outings your two new additions will have! Am trying to plan something fab to wear my new dress....to distract my attention from the fact it's the last CD dress to go into my wardrobe. Hope you are having a lovely weekend! Rx

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    1. They do all have a story! Mine has some good memories attached. Have already got a bunch of places I'd like to wear the maxi dress to... unfortunately in the next few weeks, and I daren't get them off layby before Christmas! I even have a clutch that matches the blue dress perfectly already too...
      If you change your mind, and would like me to go and lay-by one in DJ's for you too, I'm happy to be your enabler....xx

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    2. DJs in Canberra Centre have only just finished their very long refurbishment so went in to have a look on Friday, after a fabulous lunch at the new Jamie Oliver Italian. Lo and behold! All the CDs! Think I saw your maxi Heidi! Have put up some pics up on Facebook.

      Sounds as though you must both choose occasions carefully to wear them - only good memories must be attached. Love your retrospectives. Happy weekend, Pammie xx

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  12. French lace and Silk Maxi? I feel like it's a test I want to pass!

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    1. Only 50% I'm afraid! Silk Maxi is a tick, but I got the navy lace with black. The French Lace didn't fit very well (bit too long on me, and wide on the shoulders) xx

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  13. Lovely post. Reading the comments I guessed the blue & black and the maxi... although all of them look great. The maxi would have come in handy during your lux yacht week!
    The engagement dress story is fantastic.
    I don't think that you will regret getting either of those dresses in Jan. I similarly will start wish-listing a few 'investment' pieces from NAP to swoop in and get in the sales. x

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    1. Oh yes, I could definitely have swanned around on the yacht in the maxi dress! You guessed right Charlotte!
      I love both the dresses, and I'm sure I'll wear them a lot over the years ahead - considering how long I've had the engagement party dress, and that it still looks current, I'd say I'll get a lot of wear out of them. Good idea with the wish list... when the sale starts I start to get dazzled and side tracked by things I don't need/ want xx

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  14. Just catching up on some blog reading so am a bit late on commenting - I thought the Silk Maxi and then a 50/50 for the Silk Day dress or the French Lace would have been your choices - thanks for sharing your Engagement Dress story - what lovely memories (gotta love a happy ending to a future husband being lead astray in the Casino..!!)
    Christine x

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  15. Navy lace definitely... and Loved the blue/white ... excellent you chose the maxi... day and night wear! My daughter bought a beautiful CD dress two weeks ago for a wedding she went to yesterday... such a shame she is closing down... the assistant in Woollahra mentioned that their lease was coming up at the end of the year... You wear frocks so well Heidi! xx

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  16. I am holding this blog post ten hundred percent responsible for me coming home with the French Lace and Silk Day Dress today...
    We were given some DJs vouchers for Christmas, and I'm not really a DJs girl. My intention was to bring both home and see if they work for me outside the change room (also love their generous returns policy), then return one. But the more I think about it, the more Investment Piece-y they're becoming. Uh oh.
    I found the fit of the day dress a little off too, but am not sure if it's just a little bit big; the French lace fits beautifully.

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    1. Funny, Mrs M! They're both beautiful dresses - the French Lace was so lovely, it was just a bit long for me all over. Maybe with a few nips and tucks the day dress will work? They must've been on sale too....which makes them even better! Enjoy! xx

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    2. Indeed, 30% off! But I'm still considering playing reductions roulette - maybe you could return yours and re-purchase too ;)

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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