From princesses and politicians to Oscar-winning actors, Carla Zampatti first started making women feel beautiful in 1965.
When Carla first arrived in Australia at the age of 8 from Italy, she noticed a gap in the Australian market. Her passion for designing led her to share her vision. Since the start of her career, Carla’s design ethos has centred around elevated simplicity, characterized by bold, clean lines with an Italian sensibility. Her collections are timeless while also on-trend. Carla Zampatti is committed to sustainable business practices, supporting local manufacturers in Australia and also working with Ethical Clothing Australia.
Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House was under construction when Carla launched her brand, providing the perfect backdrop for one of her first fashion shoots. Carla’s first boutique opened in Sydney’s Surry Hills in 1972.
Carla came into her power as a successful businesswoman and was awarded the inaugural 1980 Australian Business Woman of the Year.
By now a household name, Carla was approached by Ford to design the interior of the new Ford Laser. Women’s needs were front of mind during the design process: seat covers crafted in wool blend to reduce static heat, carpet floor mats ensured heels wouldn’t be destroyed and, of course, there was air-conditioning. It was launched in 1985 in Sydney to critical, and customer, acclaim.
At the end of the century it became evident the Carla Zampatti brand would be one of the few surviving and thriving Australian fashion houses post-recession.
In rejection of 80’s decadence, the 1990’s called for stripped back elegance; an aesthetic that Carla has been adored and applauded for throughout her career. Clean lines, solid colours and structured power dressing was on the 90’s agenda. David Jones first began stocking Carla Zampatti in 1990 and Myer (then Grace Brothers) followed suit in 1992.
In 2005, Carla was one of several fashion designers to be featured on postage stamps in the Australian Legends Series. In 2008, Carla was awarded the Australian Fashion Laureate. The prestigious award is presented by the industry’s most respected leaders and recognises that the ‘candidates body of work has global reach, aligns with ethical standards and links fashion to business.'
Carla’s career came full circle in May 2015 when she celebrated her 50th anniversary with a runway show at the iconic Sydney Opera House. It was the same place where, five decades prior, her models had posed at the then-construction site.
In 2015 she also released her autobiography Carla Zampatti: My Life, My Look and in 2020 she celebrated her 55th Anniversary by launching an eponymous magazine.
Carla’s contribution to multicultural Australia and the fashion industry was honoured at a state funeral on April 15 2021 at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral. It was attended by more than 1200 mourners including, former Prime Ministers, former Governors-General Dame Quentin Bryce and Sir Peter Cosgrove, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Governor Margaret Beazley and her predecessor Dame Marie Bashir, and the former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Also in attendance were industry leaders in fashion, the arts, multicultural and business communities.
Now, and into the future, her children Alexander Schuman, Bianca Spender and Allegra Spender will take Carla’s legacy forward with the Carla Zampatti team. They are dedicated to continuing to make women feel confident, beautiful, and ready to take on the world just like Carla did.