Honouring Carla Zampatti AC

Timeless, elegant and a true pioneer, Carla Zampatti will not be forgotten.

Remembering a legend, Carla Zampatti 1942 – 2021

A champion of women and an Australian success story, Carla knew how to make women feel fabulous through her exceptional designs and innate understanding of the modern woman. A cherished member of the David Jones family since the early 1990s, her gifts to the Australian fashion industry and women everywhere will live on in our hearts and wardrobes. 

‘The matriarch of Australian fashion’ as described by friend and fellow designer, Camilla Franks, Carla’s captivating presence and sense of self was infused in her enduring designs. Equal parts modern and timeless, she could seamlessly tap into the multitudes that her customers contained. Being in tune with women was perhaps her greatest power of all, translating their wants and needs into fashion that made them feel like anything was possible.

Carla Zampatti at her first store in
Surry Hills, 1972
Carla Zampatti in her first store

In honour of Carla’s magnificent life, we’re revisiting our last interview with the queen of fashion as she celebrated 55 years in business and The Home of Australian Fashion.

2020 marks your 55 years in business, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned over the years? To trust your instinct, always take advice and do what you know is right for your business.

“Quality, fit and glamour.”

Carla Zampatti describes her brand in 3 words

How have you balanced your brand’s evolution and designs while staying relevant?
It’s important to always listen to and meet your customers to understand what they want then push it a little further. Fashion should always have an unexpected edge.

Carla Zampatti’s 50th anniversary runway show at The Sydney Opera House

Can you share with us one of your favourite memories from your 55 years in business?
There have been so many – my designs being photographed at the Sydney Opera House while it was being built and then returning for my 50th anniversary to show my collection in the Northern Foyer was a great highlight. Being chosen by Princess Mary to wear one of my gowns for her official photographs was a great acknowledgment. Being acknowledged by the fashion industry with the Fashion Laureate was a most humble experience.

“Confident and glamorous.”

Carla Zampatti, on how she wants people to feel when they wear her designs

How long have you worked with David Jones?
I have been with David Jones for 3 decades and admire that they have always championed Australian fashion and designers. David Jones is a quality brand and to partner with them is a perfect fit.

Carla Zampatti at home

Designing Spring 2020

What do you love most about your team?
We have about 120 staff at head office and in retail with so many that have been with the brand for decades, that loyalty has always been reciprocated.

Your designs are famously made in Australia, why is this important to you?
I have manufactured in Australia for 55 years. It has been a partnership between my makers and my brand – we need each other and we have always respected this partnership. We have wonderful manufacturers in Australia and I would encourage more brands to produce in Australia to support Australian jobs.

What inspires you?
Fabric – technology is making fabrics even more exciting and my customers who have been loyal and have now introduced the next generations to enjoy my designs.

Carla Zampatti with daughters Allegra and Bianca Spender in the 1980’s