The optimism that is inherent to Zimmermann flourishes anew each time Nicky Zimmermann begins a new collection. While her inspirations are culturally wide-ranging (soap operas, ballet, botanica) they always emerge from a personal place – often literally interpreting some aspect of her life in Australia. Having recently celebrated 30 years as label, this season marks further celebration with her first show in Paris on the official calendar. Here, she explains how she has revisited and expanded upon her recognisably breezy silhouettes and historic influences, while drawing from a bygone local amusement part for an added jolt of joy.
Most generally, paint us a picture of collection this season
Spring 23 is a dressed-up and breezy riff on après-surf. That’s a whole vibe in Sydney – what to wear from the beach to the bar. There are Edwardian influences throughout the collection that give a sense of occasion and offer a nice contrast to the nonchalant attitude of beach culture. There is some corsetry and boned structures and gorgeous, rich re-coloured graphics of modern beach scenes on moulded linen. We’ve got hyper stripes in ballooning silhouettes that suggest circus tents and sporty details like some lowcut racerbacks in airy silk taffeta, fun PVC sandals and matching accessories like our tinted eyewear. It’s Sydney Summer essentials, really!
Tell us about a concept you have explored this season?
This season reflects the years I lived in Tamarama. It’s a beautiful and popular surf spot in Sydney, but what’s less well-known is that in the early 1900s it was the home to an amusement park called Wonderland City. It had a rollercoaster that ran from one end of the beach to the other and it’s always intrigued me – it’s so wild to think of it like that today. We explored everything we could about Wonderland City, and it proved to be a fun and rich source of inspiration for our collection this season. We thought about the change to the beachscape and the lifestyle from then to now and bringing that to life. We’ve taken Edwardian details from the era of the park and melded those with ideas of the modern Tama beach scene. There’s the colour and motifs of the amusement park; the vibrancy of the fairground; the beach used in our art and palette; and the rolling lines of the rollercoaster in hemlines and silhouettes. It’s a collection that embodies a magical summer wonderland in Sydney, with a bit of the old and a lot of the new.
What kind of exploring do you undertake before starting a new collection?
In our creative process there’s two kinds of exploring we go into before a new collection. One is exploring a place and time: in this instance the idea of a wild fun park on a beach, Wonderland City. And then the second is the next layer of immersing ourselves in the more specific details of the time. I have always been really excited by gorgeous vintage graphics – I just love them – and for this collection, we started exploring the art and font styles of Australian seed packets from the same era as Wonderland City. These elements started coming through in our hand-drawn prints.
What is your most enjoyable form of exploration?
I have a great and ever-expanding collection of vintage art and design books that I love and keep returning to – and they ended up being my greatest sources of exploration during Covid. But hopping on a plane or boat with family to sunny spots for swimming, great food, friends, and fun brings so much joy and inspiration at every turn – not to mention the discoveries at every market stall, every café, every new beach. This is my favourite exploration.
Why does exploration feel like such a fundamental part of fashion?
I think exploration is so key to fashion because, as we constantly seek out newness – fresh locations, different aesthetics, new food – it also follows that we create new, joyful, and vibrant fashion to go on the journey with us. Exploration is constantly opening our minds and our wardrobes to new experiences and really finding a way to live your best life.
How has exploration led to your brand/house evolving over time?
Exploration has been fundamental to Zimmermann’s evolution. Our environment and lifestyle in Sydney was so influential on us where we started and reflects our relaxed beachy lifestyle, finding ourselves in other great Australian beaches like Byron Bay, Noosa, Cottesloe started influencing us as well and we are always seeking new and undiscovered places to inspire us – along with some old favourites. Australians love to travel, and I have so many favourites for different reasons, and I couldn’t name just one. Different places for different moods are how I think about destinations. I love being in Paris for work or play. I find being in New York for work very energizing – the hum of the city is contagious. Every new exploration and discovery leads to something that helps evolve our brand by making it richer and more authentic – and more fun.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.