The fashion world was especially grief-stricken by the news.
Kaftan queen Camilla Franks told the Herald she was heartbroken over the loss of my muse and treasured friend.
Carla was our matriarch, she said.
Carla Zampatti and husband John Spender, federal shadow attorney-general in 1987.Credit:Anthony Willis
Zampattis publicist Kellie Hush, the former editor-in-chief of Harpers BAZAAR Australia, said she would miss going around for a cuppa and a debate she was a fierce debater.
A recent topic of debate was what women want to wear after 2020s pandemic lockdowns. She was convinced people wanted to dress up, Ms Hush said.
The business was thriving as Australian women turned to trusted brands, she said, and Zampatti thrived off working.
Julie Bishop and Carla Zampatti.
Ms Hush said Zampatti was a beautiful friend who was always very generous and a mentor to lots of designers. She loved to give out advice which was always taken on board.
Melbourne-based fashion designer Toni Maticevski remembered Zampatti as someone who championed talent and pushed me to believe what I did mattered.
Zampattis daughter, fashion designer Bianca Spender, posted a tribute on Instagram saying Today I lost my mother, my inspiration, my mentor and my friend. I am lost for words and totally heartbroken.
Quentin Bryce and Carla Zampatti in February 2020. Credit:Louise Kennerley
An online page also swiftly appeared, commemorating Zampatti as Australias most successful and enduring fashion designer who has long been celebrated for making Australian women feel confident and elegant through her exceptional design, tailoring and understanding of the modern woman.
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 womens rights movement in the 1960s to empowering women today in leadership, the workplace, in their home and at major life events.
Her family is very grateful for the support and for the excellent care from the team at St Vincents Hospital Sydney, the statement on the page said.
Zampatti was born in northern Italy, where a visit to a dressmaker sparked her interest in fashion. At the age of nine, she migrated to Western Australia. At 19, she moved to Sydney to pursue her career.
In Sydney, she met and married her first husband, Leo Schuman, and in 1965, launched her first fashion collection with her husband as a partner in the business. The demise of her marriage in 1970 meant she lost her factory – but she kept the rights to her name and with that, and a loan from a family member, was able to re-launch. She married politician and diplomat John Spender in 1975, having two more children and three decades together until their 2010 divorce.
Carla Zampatti with her daughters Bianca and Allegra SpenderCredit:Composite
By the 1980s, Zampatti was recognised not only as a fashion force, but as a force in business. She was named Qantas/Bulletin Businesswoman of the Year in 1980, and continued to collect accolades in the decades that followed.
She would be chairwoman of SBS for a decade from 1999, and served on boards including the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Theatre Company and Westfield.
In a Sunday Life profile in May last year, Zampatti said she had always felt like a bit of an outsider, especially when she was re-starting her business as a single mother – but she didnt see it as a bad thing: Being an outsider makes you try harder.
She also described herself as a culture-loving introvert. I love theatre, I love plays, I love movies. I love watching rather than performing.
Zampatti is survived by her three children Alexander Schuman, fashion designer Bianca Spender, and Allegra Spender and nine grandchildren.
Start your day informed
Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Heralds newsletter here, The Ages here, Brisbane Timeshere, and WAtodays here.
Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald.
Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The
Sydney Morning Herald.
Carrie Fellner is an investigative reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

You may also like