An internationally exclusive Carla Zampatti retrospective is coming to Australia

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An internationally exclusive Carla Zampatti retrospective is coming to Australia

Zampatti Powerhouse is the new major survey exhibition which will celebrate the life and legacy of the iconic Australian, Carla Zampatti, opening 24 November 2022.

The first internationally exclusive retrospective of Carla Zampatti AC, OMRI (1938–2021) will present the life and work of the inimitable Italian-born designer, beloved as an Australian fashion icon.

Taking over the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, NSW, the breadth of her extraordinary private, professional and public life will be rendered in exquisite detail, anchored by Zampatti’s signature designs and brought to life with first-person reflections on the designer’s clients, family, staff and friends.

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Zampatti Powerhouse will encompass 100 designs from over 50 lenders and over five decades of material, surveying a trailblazing career from the establishment of her business in 1965 to her most recent work.

Iconic pieces worn by high-profile Australian women in defining life moments include former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s jacket worn when she addressed US Congress in 2011; the white jacket worn by Christine Holgate when speaking at the Australia Post Inquiry in April 2021; the red pantsuit worn by Linda Burney for her official parliamentary portrait in 2019; Tina Arena’s jumpsuit, personally fitted for her ARIA Hall of Fame induction in 2015; and Allegra Spender’s blue jacket which belonged to her mother, frequently worn while campaigning for the federal seat of Wentworth.

Other highlights include the gown worn by HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for her official royal portrait in 2015; personal items worn by Zampatti; a 1985 Ford Laser she co-designed; and two large bronze busts by Dame Elisabeth Frink.


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Following a public call-out, the exhibition will also present around 30 loaned garments from Zampatti’s rarely seen early design work from the 60s and 70s, alongside the stories of the Australian women who wore them.

“The NSW Government is proud to support the first retrospective of Australian fashion icon Carla Zampatti at the home of Australian fashion, Powerhouse Ultimo. This showstopping exhibition will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of NSW’s cultural calendar,” said Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin.

“It is an incredible honour for Mum’s design legacy to be showcased in a major exhibition at Powerhouse Ultimo. Mum loved the magic of fashion, the big runway shows as well as hearing her customers’ personal stories and how her designs often played a small part in moments of significance in the lives of many Australian women,” said Carla Zampatti CEO Alexander Schuman.

To accompany the exhibition, Powerhouse will release a publication including an archival collection fashion shoot starring Zampatti’s granddaughter Brigid Schuman, and portraits of luminaries such as Dame Quentin Bryce and Ita Buttrose by Hugh Stewart.

Powerhouse will partner with cultural institutions and foundations supported by Zampatti to present live performances, late-night programs and panel discussions celebrating her expansive legacy not only as a fashion designer but also a successful businesswoman, philanthropist, patron of the arts and mentor.

Zampatti Powerhouse will take to Powerhouse Ultimo from 24 November 2022, Entry is free. Find out more here