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Legendary Fashion Designer Carla Zampatti Has Died Aged 78

She had a serious fall last week.

Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti has sadly died this weekend, after a serious fall at the Australian Opera saw her submitted to St. Vincents Hospital last week.

Zampatti had been placed “under observation” after falling down some stairs at the opening of La Traviata at Mrs Macquaries Point, remaining in a coma until she passed away, according to The Daily Telegraph.

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Born in Italy in 1942, Carla Zampatti moved to Australia in the 50s with her family, launching her first collection in 1965 and establishing her label in 1970.

Her first boutique opened in 1972 in Surry Hills, Sydney, before growing into a 30+ chain of stores and placement in David Jones and Myer in the 1990s. Carla Zampatti was one of the first Australian designers to introduce swimwear into her collections, and created the first designer eyewear collection for Polaroid.

Her designs were loved and worn by celebrities such as Tina Arena, Princess Mary of Denmark, Dannii Minogue, Delta Goodrem and Ita Buttrose.

Carla Zampatti
Miranda Kerr in Carla Zampatti, S/S 12

A champion of Australian women, she continued to rise through enormous radical and social change, designing clothes for women fighting for liberation through the women’s rights movement in the 1960s to creating empowering fashion pieces for women in leadership and the workplace, known in particular for beautiful tailoring and suiting in the 90s.

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Carla Zampatti at a function in the 90s.

In 2020 the label celebrated its 55th anniversary via a collection featuring reinvented icons from collections past – the jumpsuit, tailored jackets and satin evening dresses.

carla zampatti
A piece from this years Melbourne Fashion Festival

Carla Zampatti was also respected outside of the fashion industry, holding positions such as the Chairman of SBS Corporation and a Trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW, board member of the Sydney Theatre Company Foundation, UTS V-C’s Industry Advisory Board, Westfield Holdings and McDonald’s Australia, and up until her death, was a member of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, and a board member of the European Australian Business Council and Sydney Dance Company.

She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1987, before being elevated to Companion of the Order in 2009. 

She is survived by her three children, Alex Schuman, Allegra Spender and Bianca Spender.

A few words from our editor, Nicky Briger.

“Carla was a giant in the Australian fashion industry and her passing will leave many – from family, friends and style lovers to her adoring customers – utterly bereft. She was a pioneer who empowered women by making them feel confident, competent and in control, thanks to her incredible tailoring, power suits, stunning dresses and flattering cuts. 
“But beyond fashion, Carla was generous, kind and a beloved mentor. She always sought out new designers and often collaborated with them; supporting emerging talent was her greatest joy. 
“Her parties were legendary; she opened her fabulous home to many of us, with champagne flowing and music booming.
“Carla will be missed on the fashion scene for decades to come, but her legacy will forever burn bright.” 

Vale, Carla.

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