Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gilded Lives: Collette Dinnigan and others

One of the most beautiful books ever published was released today: Collette Dinnigan's illustrated memoir, Obsessive Creative.

A pictorial history of Collette's life as one of Australia's foremost fashion designers, Obsessive Creative is filled with exquisite images of her family, her travels, her inspirations, her fashion collections, and her friendships and clients. (Including Princess Mary, Sarah Murdoch, and Toni Collette; the latter two were married in Dinnigan's designs). It's a sumptuous tome that (almost) justifies the $100 price. 

I've had the privilege of seeing a preview copy, and couldn't put it down. I've also had the privilege of interviewing Collette, for a magazine article several years ago, and she was considerate, thoughtful, well-mannered and surprisingly calm, given her workload. "All I wanted to do was turn my craft into something I could make an income from," she said humbly. But she added that she was always very focused. And had a firm work ethic.

However, like all hard-working women, she said that she sometimes finds life exhausting. "A lot of hard work, energy and tears" have gone into the business over the years," she admitted. 

In fact, when she finished writing this book, she decided to close another chapter in her life: her business. She had been in the game for two decades but it was only in writing her memoir and looking back over her life that she realised how much she had achieved – and just how much she had sacrificed.

So this book – as well as her collections – will be a legacy of her 24 extraordinary years in fashion.

All the best Collette.
We will certainly miss you.

Now out from Lantern/Penguin. $100. 
(Limited edition version, cover shown above: $250.)

Another beautiful book that's just been released from another beautiful designer is Tricia Guild's Colour Reconstructed. The head of Designer's Guild is as much of a prolific writer and traveller as she is a designer, and this book reveals her love of colour, with photos taken across several continents – including the always-spectacular India. 

And while nowhere near in the same league as Ms Dinnigan and Ms Guild, my next book, an illustrated guide to Provence and the Cote d'Azur, has gone off to the printer. It will be published on December 1, just in time for Christmas. (Pan Macmillan/Plum, $49.95)

I'll gladly share some Provence secrets in the next few weeks, for those planning a trip there next year.

Oh – and if you're wondering what's happened to other book projects, including Picnic at Hanging Rock, I've recently changed publishers, having decided to return to my former editor/publisher, whom I adore. We're currently working on these and some other wonderful new book projects, including a new series of beautifully illustrated guides to New York, London and Paris. 

I'm very grateful to be working with her again. She's already lined up one of Australia's most amazing book designers to do the first guide, so I can't wait to see what the creative team will come up with.


  1. Always nice to see a post from you! I do not know how you manage with all of the things you have on your plate.

    All three books look fabulous! I have them on my list for Christmas!

    Looking forward to seeing more of yours.

    Have a great day! And hug that little pup!

  2. Oh Janelle. Your posts are always such a breath of fresh air. You know I travel vicariously through you, don't you? J x

  3. Sounds like the move back to your old publishing house has been a great decision! Congrats on the completion of yet another winner. This new job has taken over my life & I'm slowly working out strategies to relegate it to the back of the room a bit. Talk soon.
    M xx

  4. Oh how wonderful there is a new Janelle McCulloch book out. I lived in St Remy with my husband and children for a year, he was painting and I was writing, so this book is a must have on my christmas wish list.

  5. An avid admirer of Collette Dinnigan's work, and have long enjoyed Tricia Guild's passion for intense colour, but it is your own book, most humbly tucked at the end, which has piqued my interest the most! The words on the back dust jacket are more than an invitation to delve into such a delightful notion of a guide for such a lovely part of the world.

    Was wondering what was happening with Hanging Rock. We used to drive past Mulberry Hill quite a bit, as my daughter attended the school nearby, and it was always a bit creepy, but couldn't work out why I felt that way. x

  6. Congratulations Janelle the new book looks amazing and the colour du jour is perfection. I will be sure to pop it on my Christmas list. Shell - A Darlings Nest

  7. Thank the Lord for your new book Janelle! My Christmas shopping is now done for a number of my friends {plus one for my husband to give to me}. Phew. I can't wait to see what you come up with for your illustrated guides. Congratulations on your continued success. Meredith.


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