Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Why I regret not buying that Carla Zampatti dress

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Why I regret not buying that Carla Zampatti dress

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Sami Muirhead: Everyday mums and daughters aspired to own a Carla Zampatti

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Fashion is a form of mental armour to help you feel fabulous and set the mood to celebrate life.

For me, the pinnacle of style and elegance has always been Carla Zampatti.

I was so incredibly sad to hear of her death recently. Many of my friends were sad too as we grew up loving, coveting and wearing her name.

The powerhouse celebrated over 50 years in the trade and she dressed celebrities for decades, but it is the stories I love from the everyday mums and daughters who aspired to own a Carla Zampatti. I am one of them.

When I was 16 years old, I would catch the bus from our home at Mount Gravatt to Toowong at least once a week to drool over a black wool crepe ball dress in the Carla Zampatti store.


The show-stopper had been on the cover of Vogue and I had that cover hanging on my bedroom wall for nearly a year. I lusted after that dress to wear to my school formal.

I had a part-time job and my single mum helped me buy my formal dress, but we never did buy that black one. It was just too expensive.

I had a horrible knock-off copy made and Mum was in a terrible car accident picking up my formal dress for me that left her in hospital for six months. Without her, us teenage kids were at home by ourselves and we grew up very quickly!

Carla Zampatti’s style never went out of fashion. Picture: AAP

Not buying that dress is my biggest clothing regret.

Fast forward to my forties and my husband bought me a black Carla Zampatti dress to wear to Melbourne Cup. I burst into tears in David Jones at the counter because that dress meant so much to me. I still love wearing it – it nips and tucks and glides in all the right places to flatter my body.

Carla’s death has reminded me that her style never went out of fashion as she was the epitome of elegance.


Her family migrated to Australia from Italy when she was six years old.

The 78-year-old was a leader for women breaking into the business world. She was an inspiration to working mums as she raised three children and left this world with more than 50 boutiques to her name.

There was even a Ford Laser named after her. I can highly recommend her autobiography, My Life, My Look. So, girls, let’s wear our good dresses more often.

Vale Ms Zampatti. You will be missed.