As one of Australia's most successful and celebrated fashion designers (her pieces have been worn by the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge and Beyonce to name a few), one may assume that Collette Dinnigan's greatest passion was for fashion.
And while it has certainly been the focus of her career, outside of work, Collette has been a long-time campaigner for sustainability and environmental issues. She campaigned to ban importing rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory into Australia, and most recently has become an active supporter of environmental and development agency water.org, after already being involved with the Environmental Justice Foundation’s Save the Sea campaign. It’s safe to say that Collette is passionate about the ocean, which is why it forms the basis of her new children’s book, Louie and Snippy: Save The Sea.
A thought-provoking and timely meditation on the need to care for our oceans, the picture book (illustrated by Grant Cowan) tells the story of a little boy whose love of the ocean takes him – and the reader – on an incredible underwater journey.
Inspired by the joy of reading to her own children, Collette said, “I spend a lot of time reading children’s books having a six-year-old son. I realise how important storytelling is from such an early age and how children are sponges for knowledge.” She continued, “Like many children today, my son is also very conscious of environmental issues. His future gives me even greater impetus to act.”
We spoke to Collette about her book, her environmental activism and how we can instil a desire to make a difference with our own children.
Louie and Snippy: Save The Sea by Collette Dinnigan, illustrated by Grant Cowan | Hardcover $26.99 | Available from 1 October 2019 | Image of Collette by Felix Forest.
Can you tell us about Louie and Snippy?
It’s a children’s book which is based around the idea of a child’s dream to swim underwater with his trusty best friend Snippy the dog. Louie is very much like my own son who loves the natural world and its animals – he’s always very inquisitive.
What inspired your desire to write a children’s book?
My son Hunter who loves books, art, animals and adventures. He really has such a fantastic imagination.
Where does your love and passion for the ocean come from?
I spent three years of my life living on a yacht, sailing around the world with my family. During that time, my parents taught us to respect the ocean and its creatures. When our sailing adventure eventually came to an end, I can remember feeling safer at sea in a storm rather than being back on land!
How has your renowned background in fashion influenced the book?
I love the creative process and I think my use of colour and the editing process was innate.
Can you tell us a little more about the work you’ve been doing in the environmental space - from caring for our oceans, through to For the Love of Wildlife?
I find that we, as human beings, are abusing our planet and taking its flora and fauna for granted. As someone with a platform, I feel compelled to try and support environmental causes and bring awareness to some of the abhorrent situations that we have created like the illegal poaching of ivory and rhino horn. We need to strengthen our efforts in lobbying the government to stop this and the trophy hunting of lions and other African animals.
We also need to increase consumer awareness around companies like Nestle, who destroy the natural rain forests in places like Borneo to grow trees for palm oil. As a result, they have taken away the habitats of the orangutans and the pygmy elephants, which are now sadly nearing extinction. We can all share these important messages through mediums like Instagram and Facebook and encourage everyone to read the content labels of products that they buy. No palm oil means no demand.
Day to day we can stop using detergents that contain harmful sulphates that pollute our waterways with algae, thereby taking oxygen from the water and killing the fish population or by diverting our rivers to support agriculture. As we all know, water is a precious commodity, we just need to let nature do its job.
What tips do you have for us to begin encouraging our children to care for our oceans?
There is always a consequence to our actions and we need to instil these lessons of passionate responsibility in our children at an early age to ensure the future of our planet and its living beings.