Fashion designer Carla Zampatti passes away at 78 a week after being hospitalised for falling at an opera performance

Fashion designer Carla Zampatti passes away at 78 a week after being hospitalised for falling at an opera performance


Legendary Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti has died.

The 78-year-old had been hospitalised after a fall on some stairs at the opening night of the opera La Traviata at Mrs Macquarie’s Point a week ago.

Zampatti died at Sydney’s St Vincent Hospital on Saturday.

Born in Italy in 1942, Zampatti migrated to Australia in 1950, setting up her fashion label 15 years later.

Her designs have been worn by some of Australia’s most influential women, including Princess Mary of Denmark, former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, actor Nicole Kidman and New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian.

A statement released by her family on Saturday said: “Carla has long been celebrated for making Australian women feel confident and elegant through her exceptional design, tailoring and understanding of the modern woman.”

In 1970, five years after producing her first fashion collection, Zampatti established Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd.

She went on to expand her retail network to create a chain of boutiques across Australia and New Zealand.

Her family said “her clothes are truly considered a distinctive part of modern Australian lifestyle”.

“A champion of Australian women and a multicultural success story, she continued to thrive as a businesswoman through enormous radical and social change, designing clothes for women fighting for liberation through the women’s rights movement in the 1960s to empowering women today in leadership, the workplace, in their home and at major life events,” the statement said.

Actors Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett, as well as former prime minister Julia Gillard, were among the influential Australians who wore the clothes of Zampatti, hospitalised last week after a fall at an outdoor opera performance.

"She continued to thrive as a businesswoman through enormous radical and social change, designing clothes for women fighting for liberation through the women's rights movement in the 1960s to empowering women today," the family said in a statement.

In the early 1970s Zampatti became one of the first designers to introduce swimwear into her collections in then socially conservative Australia.

Born in Italy in 1942, before her family emigrated to Australia in 1950, Zampatti produced her first small fashion collection in 1965 before setting up Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd five years later. 

"It is amazing what you can do with an incredible amount of youthful optimism and very little money," Zampatti told the Australian Associated Press in 2009. 

Zampatti was the mother of three children, Alexander Schuman, Bianca Spender and Allegra Spender. She was married to Leo Schuman and former Australian lawyer, politician and diplomat John Spender, and had nine grandchildren.

A savvy businesswoman who opened dozens of boutiques across Australia, Zampatti held several directorships, and served as chairwoman of Australian public service broadcaster the Special Broadcasting Service.

"We have lost a truly great and inspirational Australian," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement, adding that Zampatti was not only a fashion industry icon but a pioneer as an entrepreneur and a champion of a multicultural approach.

"Her contribution to our nation will be timeless, just like her designs."

On Zampatti's online memorial page, a customer who identified herself only as Louise wrote, "It is true of every piece I wear from the CZ line-I feel confident, elegant and empowered....Thank you for the years of inspiration."

Zampatti was the mother of three children from two marriages and a grandmother of nine, her family said.