College Street in Sydney’s central business district turned into a sombre fashion runway on Thursday as the celebrities, fashion industry figures and ex Prime Ministers paused to remember design queen Carla Zampatti.
Hundreds gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral to farewell the industry legend who dressed generations of Australian women in her ageless classic style.
Three former prime ministers, John Howard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull attended with their wives, Janette, Margie and Lucy.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was represented by his wife Jenny.
Among other dignitaries to pay their respects were Premier Gladys Berejiklian, former governor-generals Dame Quentin Bryce and Sir Peter Cosgrove, NSW Governor Margaret Beazley and her predecessor Dame Marie Bashir.
Camilla Franks stuns in a navy maxi dress with peep toe sandals as she joins a procession of well-dressed celebrities
Julie Bishop arrived at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney wearing a navy velvet Carla Zampatti mini dress paired with Aquazzura shoes, also worn by Meghan Markle
Television presenter Sam Armytage (centre) attended the funeral with new husband Richard Lavender (right) and walked down the steps of St Mary’s with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull (left)
Natalie Barr stunned in a white two-piece suit with nude sandals as she arrived at the state funeral
Dancing with the Stars host Sonia Kruger steps out of a black car ahead to remember design queen Zampatti wearing a navy mini dress and black stiletto shoes
Mourners included immaculately dressed figures from the worlds of fashion, entertainment and politics as well as members of the public who donned whatever cherished Zampatti pieces they owned. Pictured: Camilla Franks (left) and Georgie Gardner (right)
Mourners included immaculately dressed figures from the worlds of fashion, entertainment and politics as well as members of the public who donned whatever cherished Zampatti pieces they owned.
Broadcaster Alan Jones was joined by designers Collette Dinnigan, Camilla Franks, Nicky Zimmerman, Peter Morrissey and Marc Freeman and Camilla Freeman-Topper from Camilla and Marc.
Television presenters Melissa Doyle, Natalie Barr, Sonia Kruger and Sam Armytage, jeweller Nic Cerrone, former foreign minister Julie Bishop and former federal politician Bronwyn Bishop were spotted in the crowd.
Loyal staff who had worked for Zampatti over the decades also came to pay tribute to their late boss.
Zampatti’s shattered loved ones including daughters Bianca Spender (back left) and Allegra Spender (back centre) and their children watch as her casket is taken away
Carla Zampatti’s daughter Bianca is seen left shedding a tear as her mother’s casket is removed from the Cathedral – and right being comforted by a mourner
Zampatti is survived by her son Alexander Schuman (left), daughters Bianca Spender (front) and Allegra Spender (back centre) and their children
Pallbearers remove the casket following an emotional service at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral
Melissa Doyle is pictured with Natalie Barr following Carla Zampatti’s emotional funeral service on Thursday morning
Zampatti was rushed to hospital after falling at the opera on March 26. She died eight days later
The fashion icon’s daughter Bianca Spender is pictured outside the Cathedral following Thursday morning’s service
Zampatti’s daughter Bianca Spender is seen talking to Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley following the state funeral
Zampatti suffered a catastrophic injury when she fell down steps while attending the opening night of the opera La Traviata at Mrs Macquaries Point on Sydney Harbour on March 26.
The 78-year-old was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital and died eight days later without ever regaining consciousness.
The service began with Zampatti’s own words reverberating through the cathedral as parts of an interviewed conducted near the end of her long life were played.
Zampatti reflected that while she wanted to be a wife and mother she had also longed for a career.
She had wanted to do something worthwhile with her life while helping other women achieve their goals.
Farewell to an icon: Bianca Spender (right), daughter of Carla Zampatti, is comforted by a mourner on Thursday
Zampatti’s heartbroken daughter is seen leaving the service early on Thursday afternoon
Former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull (pictured left with wife Lucy) and John Howard (right) were among the mourners
Melissa Doyle and and former Marie Claire editor Jackie Frank are pictured arriving for the state funeral on Thursday morning
Carla Zampatti, who died after a fall at the opera, had worked in the industry for 56 years. She was 78 years old
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Sydney to farewell legendary Italian-born fashion designer Carla Zampatti who died on April 3
Former foreign minister Julie Bishop and her partner David Panton were among the mourners to farewell the fashion icon
‘You learn more from the tough times than you do from the good times,’ Zampatti had said.
‘I think if you get stuck in a corner, don’t stay there. Fight to get out.’
Daughter Bianca Spender said her mother was a warm woman who called everyone darling and was ready to offer champagne and croissants at any hour of the day.
‘Nothing made her smile more than seeing her garments out in the world,’ she said.
‘If she was alive today I’m sure she would say this is the best-dressed funeral she has ever attended.’
Son Alexander Schuman said his mother proudly referred to herself as a ‘new Australian’ who worked hard for everything she achieved.
Sam Armytage and husband Richard Lavender are seen leaving the service hand-in-hand following the funeral service
Julie Bishop, her partner David Panton and former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate following the funeral
Camilla Franks comforts a fellow mourner. The service concluded at about midday on Thursday
Mourners gather outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney following the emotional funeral service on Thursday
‘Mum loved Australia her adopted country and what she loved most about it were the freedom and opportunity,’ he said.
Zampatti was a woman who did things her way, and never lost some of her Italian traits.
The grandmother of nine thought she had the reflexes of a Formula 1 driver when she got behind the wheel.
‘She was always a woman in a hurry,’ Mr Schuman said.
Dame Quentin spoke of a great Australian who had a ‘unique, deeply personal connection’ with the women she dressed.
‘Carla always said that her greatest reward was having women wear her clothes,’ she said.
In her early days as a designer Zampatti had repeatedly been rejected for bank loans because she was a woman.
‘She was furious but it didn’t deter her,’ Dame Quentin said.
‘For Carla, the personal became political.’
Zampatt’s grieving daughter Allegra Spender is seen outside the Cathedral after the service
The casket of Carla Zampatti is seen being placed into the hearse following Thursday’s service
The hearse carrying the casket of Carla Zampatti leaves St Mary’s Cathedral in the heart of Sydney
Bianca Spender and Allegra Spender, daughters of Carla Zampatti, are seen with family following the funeral
Television presenters Melissa Doyle and Natalie Barr were spotted in the crowd attending the service on Thursday morning
Janette Howard, husband of former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday
In welcoming the congregation the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, referred to the recent death of the Queen’s husband Prince Philip
Archbishop Fisher noted for all the Duke of Edinburgh’s significance to the people of Britain he was not a reigning monarch and would not be afforded a state funeral.
‘It could be said Carla Zampatti was indeed a reigning monarch – the queen of fashion,’ he said.
Zampatti had come to Australia as a nine-year-old with no English and limited education but had risen to great heights in the fashion world.
Leaving school as a teenager and a single mother as a young woman she had ‘courageously built her own fashion house from scratch.’
In his homily Archbishp Fisher said it was poignant Zampatti’s fall had occurred ‘in the midst of the high art and beauty she had long loved and promoted.’
He speculated that upon meeting her maker Zampatti might have said, ‘The choir of angels are about to get new uniforms.’
Zampatti has been credited with making Australian women feel more confident about their appearance by understanding what they wanted – elegant design and exceptional tailoring.
Her design ethos had always concentrated on what she called ‘elevated simplicity’ and was characterised by bold, clean lines with an Italian sensibility.
Politicians, business leaders, royalty and international celebrities favoured her pieces for being timeless yet on trend.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull attended St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday
Politicians, business leaders, royalty and international celebrities favoured her pieces for being timeless yet on trend. Pictured: Radio king Alan Jones (left) and an ex-Prime Minister John Howard (right)
Zampatti dressed actors Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Ruby Rose and Elizabeth Debicki, and cooking queen Nigella Lawson.
Singers Delta Goodrem and Tina Arena were Zampatti followers as were models Miranda Kerr, Erin Holland and Megan Gale. P.E Nation founder Pip Edwards was a fan.
Zampatti has been a mainstay in the wardrobes of television presenters including Sonia Kruger, Liz Hayes, Georgie Gardner, Deborah Knight and Lisa Wilkinson.
Regal and vice regal clients included Dame Quentin, Princess Mary of Denmark and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
But Zampatti was just as popular with ordinary Australian women as she was with her famous clothes horses and the public was warmly invited to attend the service.
Former NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir was also in attendance to pay tribute to Carla Zampatti at St Mary’s Cathedral
Samantha Armytage (right) greets former Harper’s BAZAAR Australia Editor-in-Chief Kellie Hush outside the funeral for Carla Zampatti
Guests arrive for the state funeral for Carla Zampatti at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday morning
Hundreds gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral to farewell the industry legend who dressed generations of Australian women in her ageless classic style
Grandmother, 73, wears her 1967 Carla Zampatti dress to the legendary designer’s funeral – and she looks just as good in the timeless number as the night she first met her husband while wearing it
Yvonne Dite, 73, and her husband made a last-minute decision to fly up from Melbourne for the service
A grandmother who first wore her original 1967 Carla Zampatti shift dress on her first date with her husband attended the funeral service at St Mary’s Cathedral in the same number.
Yvonne Dite, 73, and her husband made a last-minute decision to fly up from Melbourne for the service.
The grandmother-of-four was wearing the sentimental blue and purple zig zag Zampatti shift dress she bought in 1967, which she intends to keep forever.
‘We decided to come as a final tribute to Carla and what a wonderful woman she was,’ Mrs Dite said.
Two years ago Mrs Dite had contacted Zampatti to say she still wore her treasured dress and sent a picture of her in it on her honeymoon in 1970.
‘Three weeks later she rang up out of the blue to say, “Hello, it’s Carla”,’ she recalled.
‘For her to make time to call me just to say she remembered this material as one of her first designs, and she was pleased to see it still around…
‘Her words were: “You know, Yvonne, it’s customers like you that make my life worthwhile”.’
The dress was still in remarkably good condition and looked timeless on the 73-year-old.
‘I’ve never been able to afford one since,’ she said.
Ms Dite, from Templestowe Lower in Melbourne’s east, wore the dress she bought in 1967 to the Southside Six Hotel in Moorabbin on January 24, 1968.
The pair spent the night dancing together, and Mr Dite fondly remembers the then-19-year-old being a ‘standout’.
Mr Dite said he called his future wife at her job a few days later and they started dating soon after.
‘And that was a start of a long, lovely romance,’ Mrs Dite told The Age.
About 20 years later, in the early 1990s, Mrs Dite was spring cleaning and nearly threw out the dress, but her husband insisted she hold onto it.
Friend and former neighbour Kerri-Anne Kennerley has worn Zampatti since the 1980s and spoke of the designer’s impact after her death.
‘She was a really good woman’s woman, very kind and generous and bright,’ Kennerley said.
‘She was quite vocal before this #MeToo movement came along, she was one of the women who was always prepared to help anybody else.’
Former prime minister Julia Gillard was a Zampatti aficionado, as was Julie Bishop and Ms Berejikilian.
Mrs Morrison wore Zampatti creations at state functions including a navy halter gown and cape she showcased at a White House dinner in 2019.
‘Jen and I are terribly saddened by the passing of Carla Zampatti,’ Mr Morrison said after her death. ‘We have lost a truly great and inspirational Australian.
‘Carla was an icon to the fashion industry, a pioneer as an entrepreneur and a champion of multicultural Australia. It was our great honour to have known her.
‘She was a very kind, strong, elegant and sincere woman. She will be sadly missed by family, friends and all who she inspired alike.
‘Her contribution to our nation will be timeless, just like her designs. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family.’
Nine News presenter Georgie Gardiner was in attendance on Thursday wearing a flowery shirt and pearl earrings
Former Harper’s BAZAAR Australia and Elle Magazine editor Deborah Thomas (left) arrives alongside Founder of Ginger and Smart Alexandra Smart (right)
A group of her employees stood outside the service wearing black. Her family accepted the offer of a state funeral to honour the Italian-born icon
In the wake of her death customers have flocked to buy Zampatti tops and dresses, some reportedly in tears as they bought the last of the stock designed under her hand.
Carla Maria Zampatti was born in Lovero, about 100km from the Italian fashion capital Milan, on May 19, 1942.
Her family moved to Bullfinch in the Western Australian Wheatbelt region in 1950 where fellow students could not pronounce her name and called her Mary instead. ‘Bullfinch was no Milan,’ Archbishop Fisher said.
Carla crossed the country to settle in Sydney in her 20s, produced her first small fashion collection in 1965 and two years later launched Carla Zampatti Pty Limited. She opened a boutique at Surry Hills in 1972.
Zampatti became a multicultural business success story and champion of Australian women, thriving as a designer through decades of radical social change.
She produced pieces credited with empowering women – both professionally in the workplace, and privately when they dressed up for major life events.
‘For more than 56 years, Carla made women feel amazing in her creations, so they had the confidence to take on the world,’ a biography produced for her funeral said.
Zampatti was named Australian Businesswoman of the Year in 1980 and made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1987 for service to the fashion industry as a designer and manufacturer.
Mourners queue up to enter St Mary’s Cathedral ahead of the Thursday morning funeral
Hundreds gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral to farewell the industry legend who dressed generations of Australian women in her ageless classic style
David Jones first began stocking Carla Zampatti in 1990 and Grace Brothers (now Myer) followed suit two years later.
In 2004 Zampatti was appointed a Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and four hears later was awarded the Australian Fashion Laureate Award, the highest honour in the local fashion industry.
A year later she featured on a 50c stamp as part of an Australian Legends collection.
Zampatti served as the chair of SBS from 1999 to 2009 and while in that position sent every staff member an email on their birthday.
Her AM was upgraded to a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2009 for her service through leadership and management roles in the fashion and retail property sectors, multicultural broadcasting, and as a role model and mentor to women.
Zampatti is survived by son Alexander Schuman and daughters Bianca Spender and Allegra Spender from her marriages to businessman Leo Schuman and former politician and diplomat John Spender.
Her family had requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Sydney’s Women’s Fund which funds grassroots charities supporting women and girls.