Australian designer Carla Zampatti dies aged 78 after serious fall

Gillian Wolski
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·4-min read

Iconic Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti has died. She was 78.

Zampatti passed away on Saturday morning, a week after she suffered a serious fall at a Sydney opera.

Carla Zampatti attends opening night of La Traviata on March 26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia
Fashion designer Carla Zampatti (pictured at the opening night of La Traviata on March 26) has passed away aged 78. Photo: Getty Images.

The Italian-born creative, who launched her eponymous label in 1965, posed on the red carpet at the opening night of La Traviata at Mrs Macquarie’s Point on March 26.

Later that evening, it's believed Zampatti fell and, per the Daily Telegraph, was taken by ambulance to St Vincent’s Hospital after "losing consciousness".

The publication reports that the designer was "in a coma" and "never woke up".

Her bold and distinctive label, Carla Zampatti, is ubiquitous with Australian fashion and has been worn by countless high-profile women including Princess Mary of Denmark, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and actors Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett.

Zampatti is survived by her three children: Alexander Schuman, from her marriage to Leo Schuman and Bianca Spender and Allegra Spender who she shared with her second husband, former Australian lawyer, politician and diplomat, John Spender.

She was also the proud grandmother or 'Nonna' to nine grandchildren.


Bianca Spender and Carla Zampatti arrive at the 2015 Women of Style Awards at Carriageworks on May 13, 2015 in Sydney, Australia
Carla Zampatti with her daughter Bianca Spender, who is also a fashion designer, at the 2015 Women of Style Awards. Photo: Getty Images.

Death of a 'fashion icon'

Zampatti's passing was announced in a statement posted to her fashion label's Instagram account on Saturday afternoon:

"3rd April 2021

It’s with great sadness that we announce the death of fashion icon Carla Zampatti AC today.

Carla is Australia’s most successful and enduring fashion designer, launching her eponymous label in 1965. Carla 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 women’s rights movement in the 1960s to empowering women today in leadership, the workplace, in their home and at major life events.

Designer Carla Zampatti poses inside the new Australian and International Designer Womenswear Floor on Level 3 of the David Jones Elizabeth Street Store on August 23, 2019 in Sydney, Australia
Zampatti's label is part of David Jones' stable of Australian and International designer womenswear. Photo: Getty Images.

The family invite you to share your memories on the Carla Zampatti condolence page through the link in bio."

The Instagram account for Zampatti's daughter, fashion designer Bianca Spender shared a touching tribute to the 78-year-old and her 'undeniable legacy'.

"On behalf of Bianca Spender, It is with heavy heart’s [sic] that we farewell Carla Zampatti this morning.

"She leaves an undeniable legacy behind, and will remain a constant in the hearts of her loving family, friends and women all over Australia and the world who’ve enjoyed her designs throughout the years.

"Bianca and the rest of the family are very grateful for the support and for the excellent care from the team at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney."

Frederik (R), Crown Prince of Denmark and his wife Crown Princess Mary (L) arrive at Amalienborg Palace for a dinner in honor of Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his wife Hayrunnisa Gul given by Queen Margrethe II and her husband Prince Henrik in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 17, 2014. (Photo by Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Princess Mary wearing a Carla Zampatti gown to a dinner in honour of Turkish President Abdullah Gul at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 17, 2014. Photo: Getty Images.

Fit for a princess

Zampatti's designs were given the royal seal of approval not once but three times when Aussie-born Danish Princess Mary wore one of her gowns on three separate occasions.

Princess Mary initially sported the dusty pink boat-neck dress in 2013 for a Women's Weekly photo shoot, then again to a state dinner the following year.

She recycled the gown for a third time in 2015, donning it for an official portrait with her husband, Prince Frederik.

Zampatti told Fairfax Media at the time that she was 'so proud' the Danish royal had not only asked to keep the dress but had chosen to re-wear it for such an auspicious moment.

"At the end of the shoot she asked if she could keep the dress [and] I was delighted.

"She looks so beautifully regal in their 2015 official portraits. I am so proud."

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