De­signer Zim­mer­mann stays calm amid fash­ion typhoon

The Australian - - THE NATION - MILANDA ROUT

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

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