Designer Zimmermann stays calm amid fashion typhoon
A typhoon in Japan is causing Nicky Zimmermann a serious headache. The co-founder and designer of Australia’s most successful fashion house is standing in her warehouse office in downtown Manhattan putting the final touches to her spring 2019 collection ahead of New York Fashion Week.
The runway show is on the next day and some of her accessories, namely sports bags, have not turned up after being stuck in Japan thanks to a typhoon. She changes tack and makes do with another type of bag. Zimmermann makes it work as there is too much at stake; she and her team have been working on this collection for more than six months.
“There is always something,” she said. “Someone’s shoe is hurting, a look isn’t working or someone got make-up on a lilac jumpsuit and it will be me that has to get it out because everyone is too nervous. In instances like that, I just have to fix it.”
The Australian interviewed Zimmermann over six months to see how one of the country’s top designers creates a collection of 34 looks — from ideas that germinated at the beginning of the year to the result on the runway in New York in September. For this season, it was inspired by Zimmermann’s recollection of the controversial 1970s television show Number 96.
The process starts with a mood board with 1970s-inspired fashion; from flares to ruffled shirts to large hats. It moves on to sketches of the designs, to making fabrics, to creating samples of the clothes. In between, Zimmermann darts across the world to open new stores (in the French Riviera and San Francisco), source fabrics, oversee fashion shoots and just keep the business, which she founded with her sister Simone in 1991, growing.
“A show is on average eight minutes (long), but the level of work required and the months and months of creative heartache, everyone feels it,” she said in her Sydney warehouse office.
“The person that sends the collection feels it, the production team working on it there (in New York) feels it. I think there is a sense of responsibility felt by the entire team. It encapsulates our entire business — for just eight minutes. It is kind of crazy, that is what it is. We probably have the biggest moments of heartache and the biggest moments of joy.”
Models backstage in 1970s-inspired creations before Zimmermann’s show at New York Fashion Week in September
Nicky Zimmermann at work before the New York show