Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti has died in hospital, aged 78.
Ms Zampatti died at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital about 10am this morning, a week after she fell at an opera premiere.
She was knocked unconscious after falling down on the bottom two steps of a staircase at Mrs Macquarie’s Point on the opening night of La Traviata.
Sources say she went into a coma from which she never recovered.
Born in Italy in 1942, Zampatti’s father migrated to Fremantle first before the rest of the family joined him in 1950 when Carla was nine.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review last year, Zampatti said she admired how her mother single-handedly ran their farm, vineyards and mountain retreats in Italy after her father left.
I thought if I do something … I’m going to make sure I get full credit!
“I looked around, and women didn’t seem to get much credit,” she said.
“I want to have children, and I want to be married, but I also want to be an individual.
“I thought if I do something … I’m going to make sure I get full credit!”
Zampatti was true to her word. Moving to Sydney in her 20s, the ambitious young woman set up her fashion famous label at only 24, producing a small fashion collection in 1965.
Two years later she launched her collection nationally and in 1970 established Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd.
Her designs have been worn by some of Australia’s most influential women, including Princess Mary of Denmark, Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, Oscar-winning actresses Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett, and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.
In a statement, her family said she was Australia’s most successful and enduring fashion designer.
“Carla has long been celebrated for making Australian women feel confident and elegant through her exceptional design, tailoring and understanding of the modern woman,” the statement read.
“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.”
Ms Zampatti is survived by her three children Alexander Schuman, Bianca Spender and Allegra Spender, and was the “proud Nonna” of nine grandchildren.
“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 Spender, who followed in her mother’s footsteps as a designer, said in a statement.
A condolence page has been established at Carla Zampatti AC|Farewelling memorial. The family ask for privacy at this time.”
Zampatti hit her head after falling on stairs after the final curtain call at an outdoor opera event held at Mrs Macquaries Point in a pop-up arena.
The image above shows the fashion designer at half time prior to her fall, which rendered her unconscious for an extended period of time before paramedics arrived.
Opera Australia chief executive Rory Jeffes last week confirmed the accident telling media a lifeguard attached to the company stayed with Zampatti while staff called an ambulance.
“My understanding is that they just cared for her, she appeared to be in and out of consciousness and therefore they just made sure she was comfortable until the ambulance arrived,” he said.
The tragic news has sparked an outpouring of grief across Australia.