Business Or Lifestyle? 'Life Cycles' And The Career of Collette Dinnigan

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Provides a unique analysis of the key 'Life Cycles' years (ie.24/36/48) in the life and career of leading Australian fashion designer Collette Dinnigan. Perfect correlation between her major turning points/new directions and the theory.

Submitted: May 27, 2014

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Submitted: May 27, 2014

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 570254-3d0e6298-42d8-11e3-8139-2fc28a7ac  Collette Dinnigan is a household name in Australia for her trademark romantic and exquisite bohemian dresses. OK, I'm a mere male, so this is  what my research tells me; but having looked at a range of Collette's designs, I  can say they grab me straight up. She has dressed the likes of Oprah  Winfrey, Helena Christensen, Crown Princess Mary, Madonna, Nicole  Kidman and Pink. She is also a very successful businesswoman, who  developed her original Sydney-based company into a global empire. Why am I  featuring Collette? I mean apart from enjoying a glimpse into the world of  fashion.

 The answer became very obvious to me one Sunday, when I read a quick  summary of her career in the paper. It featured every single adult 'Year of  Revolution' (ie. ages of 24/36/48). There it was, large as life, and I didn't have to go digging to find it. Her career is the very embodiment of 'Life Cycles' theory. She has been in the news lately because of a decision to walk away from her 24 year-old business in order to focus on her family and lifestyle. How old is she right now? That would be the age of 48, or what I would call one of her 'Years of Revolution'. According to the theory, all of these years are often marked by new directions and upheavals.

It's a simple matter of maths to see, that if she had been in her own business for 24 years, she must have begun it at the age of 24, or again what I call your first adult 'Year of Revolution'. This not only marks a new age/direction, but in career terms is often tied to your first 'career identity', or what it is that you are known for. She 'fits the spec' perfectly in this case. Also the theory states that often things don't go to plan during this time of upheaval. In Collette's own words:-"...in the nineties, when the government stopped the subsidies for the film industry, it was just a disaster. Everything fell apart and I had to do something, so I just decided to set up my own lingerie business." She designed her own bra collection and sold it from her home, not knowing what would happen, but word of mouth made it successful. This is a first-hand picture of exactly what the 'Life Cycles' theory says. At the time you live through it, it can be quite stressful.

 

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OK, that was 24, how about her now current new age/direction ushered in during her age 48 'Year of Revolution' (Sept. 24th 2013 to Sept. 24th 2014). Is there some upheaval in her life during this current 12 month period? Again, in her own words :- " Paris Fashion Week (last week in Sept. 2013) proved to be the deal breaker. When I returned from the hectic business trip, I felt my 11-month-old son Hunter didn't recognise me" So, in early Nov. 2013, she announced she was closing the doors on her eponymous label to spend time with her family of 2 children. This includes closing her boutiques in Sydney, Melbourne and London. She also stated:-"I'm not expecting the transition to be completely smooth. I'm used to 14-hour work days and relentless travel, so finding moderation will not be easy." Does this sound like another type of upheaval process, not dissimilar in nature, to that which saw her begin her business at 24? Once again, this is textbook 'Life Cycles'.

What about when she was 36, I hear some saying? If you've read some of my many articles, then maybe you're one of those? Can your 'Life Cycles' theory work here? Also you usually say that big things can happen to all sorts of people during this one year in their lives. A career-defining time is the phrase you use. Is this true? Will it feature both frustration and success? Remember, there is NO OCCULT in this theory. It is based solely on biographical facts. If there's something mystical about it, I have no idea what it is, and I reject any attempt to link it to other unprovable theories (like astrology/numerology etc.).

So, here we are in the period Sept. 2001 to Sept. 2002. What was going on then? Well, Collette had recognised, that you can't effectively run a global fashion business from Sydney. The world of Paris, London and New York demand you be geographically closer in some form. So, what if this period included opening up her first flagship store outside Australia? In essence, the beginning of her new direction for 'going global'? Again, I'll use Collette's own words:-"London was a real challenge and I was very ambitious in setting up that store... We actually set it up soon after September 11.." In other words around the time she just turned 36. She continues:-"I thought I was going to die when I opened it!...nobody walks past a shop in Chelsea Green." Does this sounds like an initial period of stress to you?

518_1GG_8383.jpgHer store was well away from the Bond Street fashion district and there was concern about whether customers would come, but come they did. This was helped by Marks and Spencer getting her to design a branded collection of lingerie - 'Wild Hearts' - exclusively for their stores around the same time. More upheaval was occurring in her personal life, as she was getting divorced from her first husband, Eurogliders guitarist Bernie Lynch, during 2001. Remember I said the age of 36 is pivotal in so many lives I study, I've come to find it almost commonplace. Well, in Collette's case we aren't finished, because there's quite a bit more to go in 2002. Let's move on.

In the early part of 2002 she seriously considered moving to Bologna in Italy:-“I had someone in Bologna, who pretty much wanted to buy the business, the manufacturers of Pucci. All the deals had been done, they’d been out here a few times and I’d been there, and I’d sent my team over to look at Bologna." This would have definitely been a life-changing move, but her personal life again featured, because not too long after this she met her former partner, TV personality Richard Wilkins, with whom she went on to have a daughter and she decided to stay in Sydney.485393-collette-dinnigan.jpg

So, I think that about sums up one tumultuous year of change. New beginnings with her London store, almost selling out and moving to Italy and big changes in her personal life. I'm sure she'd agree it was 'a hell of a year'. It is one of the clearest examples of the influence of 'Life Cycles' in a career and a perfect match with my phrase:-"at 36 you 'burst upon the scene' and often at 48 you 'leave the stage you have been upon'". At 24, Collette begins in business as a response to outside career pressures. At 36, she begins her global push with opening her London store, as well as almost selling the business and big changes in her personal life. At 48, she closes her shops and says for the present at least:-"I quit."

In terms of statistical theory you could say such an example shows strong evidence of 'face validity'; or literally that it measures what it sets out to measure. It's black and white or you could simply add 'it's as plain as the nose on your face'. I enjoyed compiling this post because of the extensive media file Collette has, that was full of first-hand quotes. This is the subjective proof of the influence the individual themselves feels as they are living through these years.


© Copyright 2020 Neil Killion. All rights reserved.

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