This winter, the label synonymous with Australian style, loved by Kendall Jenner and worn by bonafide bohemians the world over is going unapologetically OTT. Warning: you will want to, too.
It’s funny that designer Nicky Zimmermann is sitting here dressed in head-to-toe black (looking incredibly chic, mind you – black satin slip, silk blouse) while we’re discussing her autumn/winter collection. Funny because the campaign photographed to promote the range (and previewed here on ELLE.com.au) showcases some of the most beautifully decorative pieces the creative director has ever shown, at least on the New York Fashion Week runway.
You see, the U.S. is a big focus for the brand (as stores in New York City, Los Angeles and East Hampton will attest) but the Americans are known for being a little conservative when it comes to colour and print. Letting one’s creative juices overflow on the runway isn’t always advisable. But an element of risk can be just what is needed to get you noticed, so you could say this season was a no holds barred demonstration of just what the iconically Australian brand is capable of – the kind of sophisticated femininity established almost from the day sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann founded their namesake brand in Sydney in 1991.
“For an autumn/winter show it was really about showing something quite optimistic, going for a relaxed opulence,” explains Nicky. “It had a bit of a slouch to the silhouette but it was really decorative and highly patterned, which we hadn’t really done so much before in America because I guess they’re not as comfortable with print and vibrancy as [we are] in Australia. So I wanted to come in and do an autumn/winter show how we felt it could be, so something very Zimmerman.”
The collection notes, entitled Mirror Mirror, have the brand exploring “the connection between how we dress and how we feel”. Ultimately, Nicky wanted to create something that felt uplifting, so she sought inspiration from India – specifically the culture and architecture – mining rich colours, prints and textures and recreating reflective surfaces that literally dance in the light. Think layered tones of fuchsia, burgundy, tan, bottle green, mushroom, blue and silver, regal print on print, luxe loungewear, soft trenches, bomber jackets, harem pants and Zimmermann’s signature voluminous dresses, this time with floating ties.
It’s the kind of fodder you know will catch the eye of the celeb set and girls for whom languishing on the balcony of some palace in Rajasthan is par for the course. Emily Ratajkowski, Lara Worthington, Charlize Theron, Kendall Jenner, Beyoncé – the list of style influencers discovering the brand continues to grow. A fact Nicky has increasingly become accustomed to but no less thrilled about.
“One of the things that I’ve come to realise is that they’re just girls and they like pretty things, they’re attracted to [the brand] and when I see them in it, I get it. They do look great and I think probably having access, particularly to the Soho store and Melrose Place store… These girls have everything, they have a stylist but they still love going in to buy things. They shop like girls – Jennifer Lawrence walks in shopping with girlfriends.”
Closer to home, Zimmermann’s Paddington boutique is set to re-open next month after a refurb and will stock the new winter collection in all its splendor. The fit-out will display the campaign visuals, produced in the U.S. by an expat team consisting of photographer Benny Horne, stylist Michelle Jank, makeup artist Jodi Boland and hair maestro Brent Lawler. The evocative images are 100 per cent Zimmermann. “I think it’s the only way you can go,” says Nicky. “I know with buyers now it’s the reason why we’re having extraordinary cut-through in our selling – the point of difference is everything. And I’m pretty clear on that. You can always have ups and downs but I’d rather do that than turn into something that we’re not. It’s not what this is about for us. It’s more about what we are and that we are going for it.”
And going for it in a big way. In March this year it was announced that Zimmermann were targeting global expansion by partnering with with Growth Equity Firm General Atlantic. The minority investment is intended to accelerate the company’s growth in the United States, Europe and around the world with multichannel distribution including new store openings, selective wholesale partnerships, and e-commerce. “We’re so excited, to literally have people that just completely get it is amazing,” beams Nicky. “For me, the whole thing really allows me creatively to get better, to have a bigger creative team, to meet new people, different people, more specialised people. I think the big thing for myself and my design team is that every time we do something, we’re looking for how to improve, get better and make it better for our girl.”
Incredibly, every scrap of passion Nicky may have felt as a fledgling designer still appears to be present and accounted for. “I think it’s a privilege to work in fashion. I can’t believe I get to do what I do. Most definitely Simone and I have worked very hard to be able to do what we do but I find making things fun, I find creating a show highly enjoyable. I don’t think I’d ever turn up to work and not want to be there, ever! I love working with a great young creative team, I’m always laughing, they’re hilarious. It’s simple and it’s still very much fun for me – it’s almost getting more fun. And more work!”
As for Nicky’s all-black outfit today, it’s just testament to the fabulous contradictions that define the Zimmermann girl. “It’s kind of weird,” she laughs. “Because I can wear incredibly feminine prints and be in all jet black and be perfectly happy. My husband thinks it’s hilarious that some days I wear men’s suits and things… but I love that, I love that mix, I love a blazer over a really pretty dress, so it’s always a balance…Whether I’m going out or I’m going to a wedding or even just to the beach, even with our swim, it’s about that always. It’s about wanting to make people feel good and enjoy fashion and bringing that element of fun.”