Fashion designer, business leader, philanthropist and mentor, Carla Zampatti, was a trailblazer since the establishment of her business in 1965 up until her passing in 2021. Zampatti Powerhouse is the first retrospective exhibition drawing from over five decades of material, featuring 100 outfits from Zampatti’s estate, the Carla Zampatti Fashion Archive and wardrobes across Australia.
Throughout her illustrious career, Zampatti stayed true to the design ethos of simplicity, understatement and strength that appealed to so many women, whilst at the same time refining and reinventing the range. This brilliant creative and business approach was what gave her such longevity. Zampatti Powerhouse traces the evolution of her style from the youthful spirit of the 1960s and 1970s to the relaxed sophistication of later years.
To create a fitting background for the exhibition, Pablo Donnan, Lead Scenic Painter at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), was briefed to deliver a scarlet coloured, venetian plaster painted finish. “I had come up with custom recipes that achieved the desired vision. However, I knew from the scale, size and architectural relationship of the surfaces to the viewer, that I'd need a manufacturer to help supply a bulk order to guarantee consistency,” he says.
Finding a manufacturer to work with was not easy to source. But after trying several companies, Donnan discovered a solution in Peter Lewis Paints that delivered on colour, material and price. Importantly, Donnan needed a collaborator which also had the knowledge, passion and dedication to communicate, develop and tweak the product.
“Tinting white plasters to brilliant colours can be challenging,” Donnan explains. To achieve this, several things are needed: “Space to experiment, research, and source the right pigments and/or tints. Being able to bend and adapt the usual application methods is often the only way. There were a number of trials in meeting all the requirements, but the collaborative process was thankfully easy and productive.”
Through collaboration, a custom plaster finish and colours were developed. Each paint product has its own intrinsic qualities that will dictate application methods, and this particular plaster was different to others in that it was more elastic and a little gummy — perhaps due to the customising process. “In the final stages of application to the ending result was where the product performed extremely well,” declares Donnan.
“It still creates a sense of wonder in the quiet exclamations of people that walk by.”
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