leading ladies
InStyle Australia|June 2020
Together, they are two of Australia’s most iconic and inherently elegant women. On the 55th anniversary of her fashion label, CARLA ZAMPATTI chats life, family and finding your calling, with women’s rights pioneer and dear friend of 40 years, former governor-general DAME QUENTIN BRYCE
RACHEL SHARP

Fashion icon Carla Zampatti and Dame Quentin Bryce, who was the first female governor-general of Australia

DAME QUENTIN BRYCE: I must start by saying 55 years in the fashion industry is truly incredible. Carla, you’ve contributed to our community in so many ways, not only through beautiful clothes and fabrics, but also through your support of the arts and music, dance and theatre. [Zampatti has served as chairwoman of the SBS Corporation and trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and currently sits on multiple boards, including the Sydney Dance Company, MCA Foundation and Australian Multicultural Foundation.]

CARLA ZAMPATTI: Yes, 55 years is a long time but I have no plans to retire. I’ve been very, very lucky Quentin—lucky to have wonderful family, wonderful friendships, and a life full of fashion, my first love. If you find something you adore doing and people love what you do, it’s magic. But enough already about me: look at you! You were Queensland director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. You climbed right to the very top of what’s possible as the [first female] governor-general of this country [the 25th person to hold the office, from 2008-2014] and you did it with dignity and style. I remember travelling with you to Europe when you were the GG and people just fell over themselves because you were so beautiful, so stylish, so knowledgeable, so on top of business, human rights, equal opportunity, everything. Plus, you’ve had more children than me, and a successful marriage, so you’ve done much better than I have. [Both laugh]

QB: Carla, you have a marvellous capacity for friendship and so many people speak of your sparkle. I’ve been to some very special glittering occasions of yours and can’t help but be impressed with the constant achievement. But one of the lovely things about your autobiography [My Life, My Look], which I had the enormous privilege of launching in 2015, was the new challenge you embraced to speak about personal aspects of your life, including the guilt and anxiety many of us feel about juggling work and family.

CZ: I had a lot of help—nannies right through from the age of zero to 12 years. I can’t change nappies! But I know we’re both very proud of our adult children. They’ve grown up to be successful in their own right and I think that has been by example, rather than by mothering, or smothering, as one of my children calls it.

“Friendship is about listening but it’s also about trust, supporting each other through confidential, personal issues” - DAME QUENTIN BRYCE

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