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The Residents - Carla Zampatti

Fashion, Hotel, James St

Iconic Australian Fashion label Carla Zampatti, now in its 55th year of dressing women, joins a line-up of key Australian designers that call The Calile home. Carla Zampatti brings a lifetime of style, elegance and sophistication with its timeless designs and commitment to quality and ethical practice.  We spoke with Carla about her illustrious career to date:


2020 marks the 55th Anniversary for your legendary career in fashion. How does it feel to be one of Australia’s most iconic and long-standing designers?

I am very honoured and grateful for my career in fashion over the years, and that my work continues season after season. I cherish the relationship with my customers over the years – they challenge me, and I challenge them to want something a little more than they thought


How does being a successful businesswoman in 2020 compare to past decades?  Do you feel that women face the same challenges now as in the past, or have those challenges merely changed?

It has definitely evolved over the years - the challenges have shifted from breaking the barrier, and we still need to break more barriers, to enable a shift into a world so highly connected and competitive. I feel that the challenges we face now push us to innovate and explore the boundaries on what we can achieve - from fabric technology to finding ways to be sustainable and ethically aware.


From designing Polaroid’s first sunglass collection, and redesigning the Ford “Laser”, to featuring on your very own Australia Post stamp and designing uniforms for some of Australia’s most prominent companies, all while also winning multiple awards – your achievements are astounding. What would be your top three career highlights?

I have been so lucky with the opportunities that I have been a part of throughout my career. A few of my highlights include dressing Princess Mary and seeing my gown immortalised in an official royal portrait. It was an honour to close the Mercedes-Benz Fashion show in 2019 with the Brandenburg Orchestra performing live as my collection was shown on the runway. Also being invited to chair SBS for ten years was an incredible honour, to work with such dedicated people representing the diverse culture of our nation. Of course, all the amazing opportunities mentioned above have a special place in my heart.  It Is always incredible to look back and reminisce but also be excited and optimistic about what the future holds.


Your tailoring and designs are iconic and everchanging – how do you remain relevant in the fast-paced world of fashion?  Is timeless style more important that fast fashion trends?

I have always designed for a woman who wants to be confident, sophisticated and also to not have to think about what she is wearing. I always design a collection based around my two favourite shades, black and ivory which allows a woman to build her wardrobe season to season. I have always considered what well designed garments will always stand the test of time.


Like The Calile, you work closely with your family, is it hard to separate business and family time when out of the office? As the matriarch, does the “Mum knows best” theory still apply?

I have always been very lucky to work closely with my family - and am very proud that my children have forged careers in the fashion world. Sometimes work is discussed 'outside work hours' but I think this is bound to happen when running your own business. I am very grateful that my children have been involved in my brand's development and growth - we work in a collaborative way that sees all of our strengths utilised.


Carla Zampatti has raised over $27,000 for i=Change, an initiative whereby $5 from every online purchase goes to a charity of the buyer’s choice. Why is participating in such program so important to you? 

I am very proud to be partnered with i=Change and believe that corporate responsibility is something that businesses should strive to do, in any capacity possible. I have always believed in the advancement of women; developing opportunities for the next generation in fashion; supporting the arts and advancing medical research. Through i=Change, we have been able to contribute to amazing charities and organisations who directly help those in need.


The one question everyone wants answered… You have an impressive collection of sunglasses; how many shades are in your accessory cabinet and what’s your favourite pair?

I don’t think I can name an exact number! I do love sunglasses as an accessory – they add a level of mystery to the wearer. My collection at Specsavers is one of my most cherished works. My go-to is my take on the aviator - the cross-over bridge detail is a small but impactful twist on the classic shape.

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