Nostalgia ran wild at Zimmerman’s Spring 2020 runway show on Monday in New York City. Creative Director Nicky Zimmermann said her collection Wavelength was inspired by that fervent, overzealous energy she experienced as a kid at the end of the school term, right before summer hit. It was the 70s and baby Nicky attended Taren Point Public School in Sydney’s South – or The Shire for the initiated; a secluded little microcosm where I too grew up. Glowing skies, glistening waters, summers were spent working out which bus to take to get you down to Wanda Beach and surfing lessons were part of the school curriculum on Thursdays. A good beach could either intensify or calm the rocky experience of growing up – everybody knew everybody’s business in that town – but Zimmermann’s right: Relishing in that feeling of freedom and detachment from books and studying and grades was as good as the 1966 surf documentary The Endless Summer would have you believe, the film Nicky’s teacher let her students watch before the last bell rang.
“I wanted my school holidays to feel like that film,” says Zimmermann. “The collection has been inspired by the excitement of summers as much as the film itself. I have this fond memory of the last days of the year before the holidays – it was the beginning of summer in Sydney and that time of the year when we didn’t do much school work which suited me fine!”
For the American fashion set, summer has just come to a close and Zimmermann’s vibrant colour palette – burnt oranges, citruses, sea foam green, magenta and cerise – sure had them harking back to warmer days in the Hamptons. The opening look – a billowing skirt and poufy sleeve crop duo plastered in surf poster porn – could transcend any summer on any shoreline: Sydney, New York, Italy. “We designed surf posters for prints that were inspired by the great 60s and 70s surf magazine covers and film posters,” explains Zimmermann. “Working on those posters and fabrics was so much fun in itself.”
The prints were repeated across signature Zimmermann silhouettes: boxy man-style linen shirts, shorts, sheer body suits and a covetable mini were all welcomed and necessary reprieves from the brand’s familiar and deeply-rooted aesthetic as were the ikat and batik patterns on silk. There was plenty of old favourites in the mix too though. The usual suspects – tiered ruffles, Victorian Macramé lace collars, custom-woven brocade and many, many eyelets – felt like elevated and more voluminous and busy versions of Zimmermann from season’s past.
Back in the day at home, it was easy to get caught in the “shire bubble” – why would you leave a place so free and so beautiful? Zimmermann moved “to the city” (read: Paddington in Sydney’s East) where she began selling clothes at the local public school’s markets on the weekend. Eventually, she opened her flagship store across the road on Oxford Street and little by little, store by store, Zimmermann is not only one of the most anticipated shows on the NYFW schedule, but also one of the most successful. The brand’s figures are constantly growing as evident by the number of store openings in high-end locations – most recently in Capri in Italy, Rue François 1er in Paris and on Madison Avenue in New York City. “New York is like a second home for us. I have spent a lot of time in the city over the years and we’ve always loved the energy Madison Avenue brings. We are excited to now be a part of the Uptown community,” says Zimmermann.
Nicky Zimmermann is the success story people talk about at home, where everybody knows everybody’s business.