Countdown. It’s an interesting term to think about during this time, for we have been counting down to the arrival of lots of unique milestones for almost an entire year now; The countdown to the end of lockdown. The countdown to the arrival of the vaccine. The countdown to zero COVID cases. The countdown to the day when we can board an international flight. The countdown to better days.
But flashback to simpler times – to the 70s and 80s in Australia – and the word took on a different meaning. Countdown was an iconic pop music program which first aired on the ABC in 1974 and was hosted by Ian “Molly” Meldrum. An institution unto itself – and a rite of passage for any international act looking to make it to number one on the Australian airwaves – the world-class program was Down Under’s lens into international fashion and music, and the synergy between the two.
Yes, before Instagram, before the internet – and during a time where international magazines took months to arrive on our shores – there was Countdown. And you could find teenagers across the country, including Nicky Zimmermann, watching their clocks on a Sunday afternoon and waiting with “anticipation and excitement” for their favourite show to come on the TV at 6pm.
“You just knew the show was going to be fun and transport you to an exciting new world. I would sit there eagerly ready to hit record on my cassette player just to relive it hours later and it was the hottest topic to discuss with friends at school on Monday morning,” Zimmermann tells GRAZIA.
“Molly Meldrum was such a brilliant host – he had this wonderful ability to disarm any musician that came on the show.”
“They were so at ease with him – they would speak openly and in a way they probably wouldn’t with other hosts, so we got quite a special and intimate look into these artist’s lives,” says Zimmermann. “Madonna was on the show too. Everything about her resonated with me especially her outfits!”
Zimmermann’s memories of Countdown inspired a new kind of hero artwork as part of the brand’s Fall 2021 collection “In Concert”, unveiled on February 19 via a short film. The designer’s love of prints and sophisticated layers is elevated this season with stylised sketches of cassettes, record players and stars dancing across bright blouses, tailored pants and French tulle dresses.
“We’ve been doing a lot of placement artworks this season – we’ve reinvented 70s and 80s pop posters for some of the prints – we love the nostalgia they evoke,” says Zimmermann. “Applying those prints on elegant full-length dresses we thought would just be really fun.”
Accents are aplenty with crystal buttons or oversized pussy bows adorning the front of blouses – dim nods to the rockstars of yesteryear; Bowie, Blondie, Jagger.
“David Bowie and Iggy Pop were guests on Countdown,” says Zimmermann. “As a teenager, I was so inspired by their personal style and how they used fashion to express their personalities. We’ve actually referenced one of the mustard suits David Bowie wore on the show and have given it a modern spin.”
The brand has also introduced Denim to its ready-to-wear offering.
“We have been working on our Denim for a while now and had infused small pieces into the swim and ready-to-wear collections. But this season we really felt like we had got it to where we wanted,” explains Zimmermann. “It also worked in harmony with the rest of the collection. It helps us expand how the rest of the clothes could be worn. There are beautiful silk blouses with billowing sleeves that I wanted to see paired back with jeans that you could wear out to dinner.”
The patent panelling on said Denim jeans is no doubt the star of this Zimmermann season (each piece features an embroidered ‘Z’ top stitched to the back pocket of the Italian Denim). The good news?
“We definitely see the Denim featuring in future runway collections,” Zimmermann adds.
As for her favourite look, Zimmermann points to this tailored denim trench and jean combo, a look she says is definitely not suitable for going to the park!
“The idea was to keep the jeans sharp and sexy,” she says.
The show notes point to how the collection “draws parallels between the exhilaration and anticipation of a live show, with the sense of occasion” – and I think this nails its spirit to a tee. Perhaps one of the biggest countdowns of the past 12 months has been the longing to get out of our loungewear. To release that pent up energy by speeding up the pace of our lives. To get dressed up for an occasion.
In the middle of the pandemic, Australians are lucky. While we can’t quite go to a concert just yet, we have arrived at a milestone where we can enjoy a long lunch with our girlfriends in a fancy restaurant, with a fancy blouse and a QR barcode.
And in 2021, what a thrilling thought it is to reach the day when we can get all dressed up and have somewhere to go.
Zimmermann unveiled its stunning new campaign imagery on June 24. Take a peek below, before viewing the digital show in full. The collection will drop into Australian boutiques on June 29.