'A totally different way of dressing': Carla Zampatti on her three most useful objects

A less-intense schedule has had some surprising upsides for one of Australia’s most respected fashion designers

This year Carla Zampatti is celebrating her 55th year in the fashion industry.

Though the doyenne of Australian fashion has spent far more time at home than is typical lately, she has been busy designing collections for the label that bears her name, and last month congratulated Domenic Roylance – the third winner of the annual Carla Zampatti Foundation design award – a $25,000 prize which enables fashion graduates from the University of Technology Sydney to further their studies overseas.

We asked the designer to share the three things that have been helping her stay optimistic.

A coffee machine

I have a lot of lattes – always in glass. I believe it’s an Australian invention. If you go to Italy and ask for a latte they give you boiled milk.

I was a bit sceptical of home coffee machines but I got a Nespresso machine 12 years ago. Normally I would have a coffee as I’m travelling around the place, but I find the machine is very dependable. I like my latte at home now more than I do when I’m in the office, when I go across the road to buy one.

Coffee just gives you a pep, it gives you a lift at a time when your energy’s flagging. And, as you know, staying home can lead to feeling less stimulated and less motivated – so it’s really important to have this uplift.

A velvet top

Particularly for Zoom, I’ve had so many compliments recently. People have said: “You look wonderful, you look well.” Little do they know my secret is my velvet top and comfortable pants. I made this for myself especially for staying home because it’s really important to have a garment you feel good in.

Being at home requires a totally different way of dressing. You’re sitting around, you might drop coffee or a piece of toast on yourself. So what you wear has to be easily washable to be kept fresh, that way you can wear it everyday – and wash it overnight for the next meeting.

I wanted something that was comfortable and yet looked good, was sleek, was feminine – all the things that you need when you’re sitting on a couch looking at an iPad and talking to other people. You don’t want to have fussy sleeves. What I made turned out to be flattering as well.

Eventually I got so many compliments that I said to the office, “We really should make this.” So we did.

That being said, I am looking forward to wearing lots of different things when Covid is over. I remember being pregnant and wearing pregnancy clothes, and I couldn’t wait to get out of them. I will be happy to get into something restrictive.

Face cream

I’ve been enjoying lavishing cream all over my face. Because I’m not wearing makeup, I’ve been applying it two or three times a day. I normally don’t have this much time to look after myself so it’s been really magical. I go to the office about six hours a week and the rest of the time I’m at home. I haven’t wanted to interact too much with the office, because you never know. It’s a crazy situation that we’re in.

I think if you look good, you feel better. At least it cheers you up, you look in the mirror and think, “That looks pretty wonderful.” I’ve also been swimming every day and the more you flip around the more energy you get. After a cold swim you’re invigorated, so you run to a bath with really hot water. It’s so good for your circulation – getting very cold and then getting very hot. Putting face cream on and coming out of the bathroom, flushing red like a baby.

For me, Le Mer skin cream is enough. I’ve been using it since it was first brought out in Australia. It keeps my skin at a level that I like – healthy at my old age. I think that, combined with swimming, must be the reason people are complimenting me.

I like to look at the bright side of things. Otherwise you make yourself miserable.


As told to Alyx Gorman

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'I never take it off': Turia Pitt on her three most useful objects
In a year when many have slowed down, Turia Pitt has sped up – here she shares the things she’s turned to that keep her going

As told to Alyx Gorman

17, Nov, 2020 @4:30 PM

Article image
‘I never take it off – holes and all’: Jenny Kee on her most treasured objects
The Australian fashion legend shares her love of waratahs and a photograph that connects her to her faith

As told to Katie Cunningham

26, Oct, 2021 @4:30 PM

Article image
'Free the leaves!' Costa Georgiadis on his three most useful objects
Gardening Australia’s gregarious host shares the items he depends on to get through the day

As told to Alyx Gorman

29, Sep, 2020 @5:30 PM

Article image
'The most practical thing I've ever had': Ronni Kahn on her three most useful objects
Lately, the founder of OzHarvest has been focused on keeping her plants alive, and setting aside her preconceptions for the sake of pure fashion pragmatism

As told to Alyx Gorman

24, Nov, 2020 @11:00 PM

Article image
‘Significant in the lives of so many women’: Carla Zampatti retrospective crowdsources a legacy
For the first major exhibition since the fashion designer’s death, the Powerhouse Museum is asking the public to contribute early works

Georgina Safe

03, Mar, 2022 @10:33 PM

Article image
Mourning Carla Zampatti: ‘She’d say this is the best-dressed funeral she had ever attended’
Australia’s fashion doyenne has been commemorated in a state funeral her children said befitted her elegant legacy

Georgina Safe

15, Apr, 2021 @11:17 PM

Article image
'It’s got a lot of sweat in it': Reg Mombassa on his three most useful objects
As you would expect from a rock star and artist, the most helpful items in his life involve grubbiness and a little bit of danger

As told to Alyx Gorman

28, Oct, 2020 @12:15 AM

Article image
'It makes something bad into something funny': Lauren Curtis on her three most useful objects
The beauty influencer sees more potions and gadgets in a week than many people come across their whole lives. Here she shares what she really uses

As told to Alyx Gorman

13, Oct, 2020 @4:30 PM

Article image
'They're proxy vessels for love': Clare Bowditch on her three most useful objects
Even by 2020 standards, the musician has had a rough year. Here she shares the everyday items that have helped her get through it

As told to Alyx Gorman

06, Oct, 2020 @4:30 PM

Article image
Comfort, style, or function? Dressing four different bodies
From layering up to formula dressing, four people with different needs share their process for picking an outfit each morning

Lucianne Tonti

25, Jul, 2022 @5:30 PM