Carla Zampatti is one of Australia’s most famous designers, and at 70, considered a matriarch of the industry. Originally from northern Italy, she moved to Australia during her childhood. Her first boutique opened during the early 1970s in Sydney, and she now has a chain of more than thirty stores across Australia. She has received many awards, including Designer of the Year, Businesswoman of the Year, and Australian Fashion Laureate, the highest honour in the Australian fashion industry.
Carla’s first husband was Leo Schuman, who she married in 1964 and divorced in 1970; their son is named Alexander (nn Alex) and he’s now on the board of his mother’s company.
In 1975 Carla married wealthy Liberal politician John Spender, a Yale graduate, barrister, and later, diplomat to France. They were divorced in 2010.
Their daughters are Allegra, who is now the General Manager of the company, and Bianca, who is a fashion designer and has her own label.
Alexander is a sturdy classic in Australia which has never left the Top 100. It was #29 for the 1900s, and reached its lowest point in the 1960s (when Alex Schuman was born) at #89. It surged upwards through the 1970s and ’80s to reach #17 in the 1990s. Since then it has remained stable, and is currently #16.
Bianca was in rare use in the 1960s, but in the 1970s, it absolutely skyrocketed to reach #139 for the decade. Top 100 by the 1980s, it peaked in the 1990s at #45. By 2010 it was still a very respectable #125, and last year it increased to #103, only just outside the Top 100.
Allegra has never been in the charts, but it is gaining in popularity, been chosen as a baby name by several celebrities, and has retained a great deal of cachet. Not only fashionable, it is also an appealing Italian heritage choice. I can’t help wondering if it is tomorrow’s Bianca?
Carla Zampatti has become a fashion institution by making classic clothes that can be worn for years, and she seems to have the same ability to select names that remain popular and stylish for decades. One of the amazing things about this sibset is that although the siblings are in their thirties and forties, you can easily imagine Alex, Allegra and Bianca as children born within the last couple of years.
(The picture shows Carla and her daughters around the mid-to late 1980s, I would guess; photo from David Jones, which has exclusive rights to both Carla Zampatti and Bianca Spender fashions)