A DEEP DIVE INTO THE AUSTRALIAN POWER DUO’S POPPY, PRINTED PARADISE
BY RHIANNA JONES
While New York, Milan, and Paris may fight for the title of global style capital, Sydney is on the fashion map thanks to Zimmermann. For three decades, Zimmermann has become synonymous with sleek, sophisticated resort wear, melding the city’s unique landscape of sporty beach meets cosmopolitan chic. A quintessential Zimmermann queen would rock a mock neck top with blouson sleeves, belted at the waist and flowing to either the ankles or mid-thigh. While the label’s signature colorful prints and sculptural silhouettes are now instantly recognizable, there’s a bit of grit sprinkled into the idyllic glam in its origin story.
In a charmed tale of two sisters, Nicky Zimmermann started selling her designs at Sydney’s famed artisanal Paddington Market after graduating design school in 1989. She was determined to create looks women truly wanted, and working out of her parent’s garage, she’d re ne her aesthetic each week based on how passersby responded to the market. The thoughtfulness paid off, and eventually a chance encounter with a Vogue Australia editor landed her an inaugural two-page feature in the magazine. The exposure in the nation’s fashion forecasting bible snowballed into domestic wholesale orders and eventually the brand’s first brick-and-mortar in the hip enclave of Darling hurst. is was when her more business-minded sister Simone came onboard, and together they took the brand to new heights, including an Oxford Street emporium and an Australian Fashion Week RTW debut shortly after.
Their entrepreneurship extends beyond geography, as the brand’s next move was a pioneering feat for a then-stagnant market: swimwear. Despite debuting as a ready-to-wear brand, the label became a global sensation through introducing swimwear as part of fashion-forward RTW. This was not your average swimsuit: corseted one-pieces, delicate enough to be lingerie with sheer mesh, lace accents, and straps galore. A bold move at the time, the swimwear market was hardly the luxury obsession it’s become today (at the time, it was mainly relegated to a separate category of athletic brands and the rare Kamaliesque design). While initially retailers were wary of their vision, Harvey Nichols took the risk and propelled the label to greater audiences, including e-commerce juggernaut Net-A-Porter, who asked Zimmermann to be an early brand of the then-nascent platform. Fast forward three decades later, and Zimmermann’s heel print extends across more than 30 stores worldwide.
Despite its impressive and innovative staying power, the brand still holds true to its initial vision: sophisticated femininity, a passion for detail, clever color combinations, and delicate original prints. Whether gleaning its celestial wonderland of AW22 or ‘60s nostalgia in Resort 23, the thoughtfulness of each pillar is easy for the eye to see. The fall collection took us to the stars, with an astrological aesthetic ripe for a millennial generation constantly commenting on retrogrades and sign exchanges. Here, Zimmermann’s penchant for delicate original prints shined bright, with 12 zodiac prints designed by Scottish artist Anita Inverarity cat walking in the form of crinoline layer-cake mini and maxi dresses, matching lace tights, and even the occasional catsuit. The pairing of cat suits and volume played a nod to retro skiwear. Yet again, the collection blurred the lines between jet-set and street wear, despite the inarguably feminine silhouettes. And of course, the passion for detail manifested in stars cascading down diaphanous dresses, heart-shaped Victorian sleeves with 3-D printed trim, crocheted appliqués, bedazzled tiaras, and other delightful adornments. Sure to enchant the fiery Leos and tender Pisces alike, the designs invite anyone to wear their cosmic personality on their sleeve.
The Resort collection took us from the stars to the sea, with a collection aptly named “The Tide.” Models sashayed through billowing silk curtains in sailboat painted gowns, nautical striped separates, fisherman basket waist belts, and retro swimwear galore. The sophisticated femininity abounds like the Resort’s opening look, a citrine cream silk printed cropped hoodie with matching maxi skirt. Whereas the clever color combos manifested in a yellow polka dot blouse and bikini top set with extra flared ocean blue sailor pants, evoking the sun and sea. It’s an easy, breezy, bountiful collection inspired by vintage ‘50s and ‘60s photos evoking that quintessential jet-set life. In Nicky’s words, “It’s a collection we really had fun doing, designing clothes that feel nice when you wear them. For Resort, that’s what we’re about. Beautiful, idyllic, romantic, and relaxing.” While for most designers, resort wear is simply a supplementary line for a specific clientele, it’s here where Zimmermann reigns supreme. As the Sydney Morning Herald once claimed, “If Sydney was personified, she’d be bronzed, brazen, and wearing a Zimmermann bikini, so synonymous has the sunny label become with Australian style.” Amongst our sea of screens and WFH wear, Zimmermann’s effortless elegance reminds us to unplug, dress up, and tap into vacation mode.