Powerful. Dramatic. Spot-lit. This Sydney Theatre Company stage is the perfect setting for our grandest fashion doyenne, who today showed her Spring ’17 collection, three weeks ahead of Australian fashion week.
Outside, Harbour views glitter, but in here it’s all about giving Carla Zampatti, and her post show girl gang, an appropriate backdrop to shine.
The designer is standing beneath the biggest crystal chandelier it’s possible to hire in Australia (2.2 metres high, had to be assembled on site) and in front of a giant rendering, in 20 carat gold leaf, of her family crest.
At first Zampatti is flanked by her models, in white, red, cobalt and molten silver slinky dresses, sculptural jumpsuits and puffy ‘80s power sleeves.
Then the models are whipped off the stage and replaced by a posse of Australian It girls, plucked from the front row. They are all dressed in Zampatti’s gear too.
“I love being back in this theatre!” says actor Krew Boylan, who last graced this particular stage when she starred in the play Tusk Tusk in 2010.
“It makes great sense to be here,” says Emma Lung, a fellow thesp, who looks like a French new wave starlet in her midnight blue velvet Carla Zampatti jacket. “I mean, Carla is a great patron of the arts. She loves the STC, and I loved the billowing silhouettes she just showed – very dramatic.”
Plus the theatre setting probably helps get the actor crowd in. Anna Bamford is mysterious in black. Newcomer Nicole da Silva turns heads in nude suede. Sarah Ellen looks electric in red velvet. Shoe designer Terry Biviano and blogger Brooke Testoni came in matching military tailoring with gold frogging, while Singer Dami Im deserves mention - her liquid gold pants suit is hot stuff.
Amidst all the drama, Zampatti looks ice cool as usual. She’s in her signature white tuxedo jacket with nothing underneath it, and dark glasses. A provocative gold necklace slung like a lasso around her neck.
“I am most often dressed in black and white, but when I do embrace colour I usually go for red or bright blue,” she says. “Red to me means energy and confidence. That’s what my woman is all about.”
Asked about the ‘80s influence coming through this season, Zampatti speaks fondly of a decade when, “Women became really confident and strong in many ways for the first time. That’s a feeling I tried to capture. The ‘80s was a lovely period.”
Fifty-two years after presenting her first collection at the Sydney Opera House, Zampatti admits she still gets a bit of stage fright. “I don’t look forward to shows,” she confesses as a camera flashes in her face. “I like them when they are done. The process…some people love doing shows, but it’s not my favourite part…For me the fun part is the design, putting the collection together. That’s what I love.”