x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dannii Minogue's project runway in Dubai

Dannii Minogue has an eye for style - and she's proving she also has a head for business. She was in Dubai recently opening up her first retail space in the UAE. See a video of her discussing the new venture, Project D.

Tabitha Somerset Webb, left, and Dannii Minogue at Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National
Tabitha Somerset Webb, left, and Dannii Minogue at Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Founded in 2010, Project D London was born out of Dannii Minogue and Tabitha Somerset Webb’s desire for key pieces they couldn’t find on the high street. Their no-nonsense, practical-yet-pretty approach to apparel paid off and the brand now counts the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Mary of Denmark and Hayley Atwell among its many fans.

This month saw the label’s debut in Dubai and the roll-out of its autumn/winter collection, comprising figure-flattering dresses in slate, alabaster, aubergine and raven black. Equally worth a look are Project D’s understated Adonis peplum jackets in crisp white or gold sequins and bleached-out butterfly-print chiffon dresses.

Tell me a bit about the label and how you two came together.

Dannii We’re girlies who love fashion and love dressing up. We had the crazy idea of doing a fashion line together and after two years of doing the label we’ve branched out from England to Australia and now Dubai.

Why choose Dubai as the next place to expand your brand?

D There’s good recognition of our label here so we wanted it to be accessible and local. I also think our dresses have feminine, elegant shapes that are well suited to the region.

Tabitha With so many glamorous events here, our dramatic sequins and long maxis – which cover the arms and knees in flattering shapes – will work really well. We’re quite jealous that ladies get to dress up here quite so much; it’s like a red-carpet day every day and it’s unlike anywhere else in the world. What a fabulous place to be a woman.

 

How did you two first become friends?

D Tabitha was designing handbags in London, of which I was a fan, so I came to stalk her at the office one day. The most embarrassing thing was that after about 10 minutes of chatting I just loved her – she was so outrageous. So I blurted out: “I think we’re going to be really good friends!” We went out for a long lunch and the rest is history.

What three words would best describe your working relationship?

D [Laughs] You say three Tabitha.

T I would say.

D OK – fun, intense and.

T Yes, what we do is incredibly intense. Having a fashion label is such incredibly hard work and it sounds so ridiculous to say that, but it really is the most time-consuming and mind-consuming thing we’ve ever done.

D Working across so many time zones, countries, manufacturers, festivals, seasons etc – it’s pretty crazy and since I’ve had my baby I’ve been based a lot more in Australia, and yet the company is run out of London, so I’m flying in and out a lot. Plus, Tabitha’s just had a baby so we Skype in between bottle feeds.

What about creative differences – do they ever arise?

T They are big! We both want very different things but that’s what works.

D What we have in common is that we’re both very selfish and we like to design for ourselves. With some of the designs we meet in the middle and then there are the ones we fight over. The ones I say are never going to work always sell and Tabitha is always right.

T If Dannii doesn’t like it, it will be a bestseller, guaranteed. It’s a standing joke in the office – if there’s a print she hates, we order as much of it as we can. But you know what – I’m 5’ 10” and very curvy, Dannii is 5’ 2” and curvy, so dresses that work on me don’t work on her and vice versa. This makes for a big range of dresses that suit so many different women.

How affordable is the range for the average lady?

T With our “day dresses” there are entry price points at about £250 (Dh1,314) so they are not insanely priced. The most expensive long evening dresses retail at about £660, so we’re not high-end designer, either.

Dannii I have to ask, with Simon Cowell famed for his high-waisted pants, are you ever tempted to give him styling tips?

D [Laughs] Er, no! And we certainly don’t take fashion advice from him either.

 

Quick fire

Describe your personal style:

D: Ladylike

T: Rock-chick

 

Favourite designer:

D: Lanvin

T: Jonathan
Saunders

 

Last luxury splurge:

D: Valentino over-the-knee boots

T: Giuseppe Zanotti shoes

 

Celebrity you are most proud to see wear Project D:

D: My sister Kylie.

T: Hmm, I don’t know..

D: Say me, say me!

 

A/W 2012 key features:

- 35 pieces
in the autumn collection

- Designs named after species of butterfly

- Delicate “River Daisy” floral motifs

- Select jewel tones; jade, amaranth and Prussian blue

- Cornelli hand embroidery on Helliconian dresses

- Project D London is stocked exclusively at Boutique 1 stores in Dubai and Beirut. It is also available online at www.Boutique1.com. For more information go to www.projectdlondon.com

rduane@thenational.ae