Motoring Goes Couture

4th March , 2017 (powered by
Date: March 4, 2017
Words: Nadine Armstrong

Melbourne is now awash with impossibly soft leather, contrast piping and bespoke embroidery…

No, we’re not testing a new Bentley. It’s the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF)! And the parallels are uncanny…

It’s no surprise that Australia’s fashion royalty and prestige car manufacturers are drawn together by their love of all things aesthetically pleasing.

For the designers on show, standing out among Melbourne’s fashion glitterati is as onerous as pleasing the deeply engrained whimsy of a hangry motoring journalist. For the car manufacturers it’s a chance to be rub shoulder-pads with Australia’s well-heeled market. Enter the fashionably driven brand ambassador.

Anointing anyone as your brand ambassador is a tricky task (remember Shane Warne’s Nicorette gig?) but ,sometimes, brands get it right.

In celebration of VAMFF, talked talked to three fashion identities that, combined, boast scandal-free longevity, international acclaim, entrepreneurial spirit and far reaching appeal.

The trio of Collette Dinnigan, Jennifer Hawkins and Kate Waterhouse discussed their cars, what’s inside and their dream designer collaborations as they lent their couture credentials to the world of motoring.

Collette Dinnigan: Audi
Audi Australia has a long-standing partnership with Australian fashion icon, Collette Dinnigan, the first Australian designer to show a ready-to-wear collection on the Paris runways, in October 1995. Major kudos.

Dinnigan can currently be seen behind the wheel of a white Audi Q7, the largest and arguably most flexible vehicle in the Audi line-up.

Staying within the German family, but a far cry from her first car, a 1965 VW Beetle, the Q7 offers the flexibility Dinnigan needs.

Right now, what would we find in her car?

“Water, sunscreen, surfboard, child’s car seat, phone charger, and a dog mat.”

Dinnigan’s favourite road trip?

“Driving south [from Sydney] through Coal Cliff and over the bridge. Also from the Southern Highlands to Milton through the Kangaroo Valley – it is so picturesque.” she says.

The Q7’s an automatic, but Dinnigan likes the option of sports mode.

Asked of her ultimate fashion designer-meets-car-designer collaboration, Dinnigan reverts to a classic.

“Old Balenciaga. The car would have modern proportions, but with very elegant detailing, and yet have a nod to the word of aero space.”

Definitely not suited to first-car buyers on a budget.


Jennifer Hawkins: Land Rover Australia
Model, turned entrepreneur and swimwear designer, Jennifer Hawkins can these days be found in a brand affair with Land Rover Australia. Which for the face of Myer proves tricky at times.

Hawkins vehicle of choice is the Range Rover Sport.

“Hand on heart a Range Rover was my dream car as a teen, still is actually, so I absolutely love my beast! Jake can fit his surfboards and golf clubs in the back, and the interior is so beautiful. My Rangie may or may not be my favourite accessory!” says Hawkins.

Growing up on Australia’s north east coast, Hawkins is still partial to that drive for the weekend road trip.

“The drive to Newcastle, and to the northern beaches will always be my favourites, purely because of what is waiting at the other end. I’m also in love with the drive from LA to San Fran and Vegas! Great memories.” recalls Hawkins.

It’s no surprise then when asked what we’d find in Hawkins’ car this minute which includes: “… myself, Jake and my staffy Milly, a beach bag/towels, my perfume, an evil eye charm… and a little sand!?

Hawkins dream fashion/car collaboration would be local designer Toni Maticevski and his artisanal acclaim.

“The car would be sleek, sexy, super chic! Maybe a touch of marble, a printed interior or an interesting trim. I’d buy it for sure!” said Hawkins.

Kate Waterhouse: Lexus
Kate Waterhouse’s first car was a red 1998 BMW 325i, handed down from her uncle, mindful of her safety. Switching marques for a Japanese manufacturer, Waterhouse looks for luxury, comfort and practicality in her car and can now be found behind the wheel of the eco-conscious Lexus NX300h F Sport.

Jump inside the journalist, fashion and lifestyle blogger’s car to find a familiar assortment of working mum detritus.

“Multiple pairs of sunnies, a spare pair of heels, lip gloss, kids’ car seats, a few toys, and of course plenty of Wiggles CDs!” confesses Waterhouse who has two daughters aged 2.5 years and six months.

When she’s alone in the car, the Wiggles are banished.

“I’m a tragic for a bit of top-40 dance music.” says Waterhouse.

Talking car interiors with Waterhouse, her ideals are formed on family memories.

“When I was younger, I remember Dad’s car always had wooden finishes. There is something so luxurious about wood and it adds a real sense of prestige to a car. If I was trying to inject fashion style and heritage into a car, wooden finishes would be the way I would go.”

Proof that wood grain is not just for veteran Jaguar drivers.

Asked about her ideal designer collaboration, it’s no surprise the daughter of Australian racing royalty chooses French luxury fashion house, Hermés – with its origins in crafting harnesses and bridles for the carriage trade.

“I would love to see a Hermés designed car. Their craftsmanship is exceptional. I have always admired their leather goods from bags, apparel, accessories to saddles and horse goods. It would be great to see what they could do to the interiors of a car!”

Three from three, the prestige SUV is a popular choice with Australia’s fashion critical, a nod to both form and function.


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