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+ Collette Dinnigan

One of Australia’s best-known fashion designers, Collette Dinnigan, tells PAUL EHRLICH why India always captures her imagination

Published on Dec 14, 2010

The Palace of the Maharajah in Jaipur

What can I say? India’s absolutely magical, a completely different world. You can’t help but immerse yourself in the traditions and culture of the country. It is a becalming place, even though, ironically, it’s buzzing with life and spirit. I go there to take time out to relax—to force myself away from my hectic life—and to work. Its atmosphere also appeals to my adventurous nature, making it a great place to play as well.

The Oberoi Rajvilas in the Pink City (Jaipur) is a favorite. Resting here is effortless. It is definitely charming. The staff there is superb; I have great respect for when attention is given to detail. Although there are other resorts that have recently opened up over the last few years, I still love going back to the Rajvilas, which is set among beautiful gardens and is near ancient forts and palaces.

Having loved India since my first visit, I now enjoy sharing adventures with my daughter Estella. She seems to be as open and as excited about the magic of India as I am. The elephant processions are especially exciting, a time when the country’s majestic traditions come to life.

My travels to India almost always take me westward—for the food, the people and the shopping. So many treasures are hidden in and around the big cities, which bustle and thrive on energy and romanticism. There are some really great antique markets and small bazaars, selling beautiful items—from silks to furniture to crystal—as well as fresh produce and shiny bric-a-brac. Battling through Chari Bazaar market in Mumbai during peak time is exhausting, but definitely worth the effort.

Mumbai has some great restaurants. A local vegetarian which is one of my favorites is called Swati Snacks, near Grant Road Market. It’s very authentic. You need to get in the queue early for lunch—you have to try the bel puri.


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