Since nurturing their global fashion house from a small booth at a local craft market in Sydney, sisters and co-Founders of their namesake label Nicky and Simone Zimmermann have developed a laundry list of what the duo defines as “pinch me” moments.
From celebs like Beyoncé and Kendall Jenner flaunting Zimmermann designs to a worldwide network of devotees, the sisters most recently added to their ongoing list of “pinch me” moments after opening the doors to their latest Cannes boutique in the midst of the Cannes Film Festival and annual AmfAR Gala – a far cry and an ocean away from their humble beginnings. “Walking down Madison Avenue and having a store, it’s like who is this? And how did this happen?” Laughed Nicky. “It’s turned into something we probably didn’t really understand what it could be completely, even though we’ve always had a lot of drive.”
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Nicky and Simone learned the importance of “drive” from a young age. “I took myself off to design school and Simone went overseas to work,” said Nicky. “Once I finished design school, I started making and selling things at Paddington market. I basically couldn’t keep up with demand, Simone was coming home at that point, and it felt quite right, you know? We need to do this now or never.” Nicky works primarily as creative director while Simone is Zimmermann’s Chief Operating Officer dividing and conquering in their roles. Shortly after, the two onboarded Nicky’s husband, a former lawyer, as part of the family business once Zimmermann began to grow beyond their control.
“Now, we get to include our own children. It’s very lucky to be able to involve different people and ourselves as sisters, working together has been a really lucky experience. We know each other so well, and fun times doing different things together is just a bonus,” said Simone. “It’s a lot of the ability to get over any issues you might have because we all have the same goals, same ethics, we’re very similar people, and we all respect each other,” echoed Nicky.
After 30 years working together, the relationship between Nicky and Simone stands as a palpable example of the familial warmth that is injected into the Zimmermann brand ethos. Their effervescent and high-spirited personalities bubble off each other in bursts of laughter and recalling past moments. It’s reminiscent of the same welcoming energy that the Zimmermanns have infused into their brick and mortar storefronts from Sydney to St. Tropez.
“We have stores in Capri, St. Tropez, Milan, and Cannes. Because of our start of the market, we love that contact with customers. We love to create places that are very welcoming and really reflect our tastes and how we like to welcome people in our homes,” said Nicky.
In terms of their new Cannes boutique, the pair called upon Sydney-based Don McQualter’s McQualter Studios who has worked with the Zimmermann sisters on several of their location interiors around the world. “Cannes is like many of our other locations, it’s an aspirational place, it’s a holiday destination, but it also has a lively local clientele – It’s a city that matches many parts of our brand and personality,” said Simone. With McQualter’s eye, Zimmermann’s Cannes store alongside their other locations radiate an inviting intimate aura that absorbs a bit of the local environment while also reflecting their Australian native. The Cannes store aims to highlight Australian creative talent by layering pieces sourced from antique dealers as well as period pieces from local and Australian markets. “Nicky with her designs and collections is a major part of our personality in the boutiques. There’s a life to them, that combines together with those locations and creates a whole experience for people when they come to the stores,” said Simone.
In their time working together, some of Nicky and Simone’s greatest “pinch me” moments have been in-store. “The thing Simone and I love is we have these incredible people coming into the store. Having places for these people where their talent and their creativity can thrive,” said Nicky. “Particularly when these people come in, it’s their choice. They’re interested and see things online or somebody says something, and they’re actually people shopping. That is a huge thrill.”
However, these moments are just as exciting when the sisters spot Zimmermann creations out and about in public. “From Australia to a remote island in Greece, I would see girls in our dresses or our swimsuits and that’s as much as a pinch me moment as when someone very famous is wearing it. It’s like wow! It’s such a compliment. When people choose to buy and wear things you’ve actually made, things that come through my designer or our hands when we’ve talked about it, then we see someone in it, that’s a pinch me moment,” said Nicky.
Zimmermann’s global successes that have allowed them to transcend worldwide markets are perhaps best credited to their ability to appeal to the universal woman. “We knew we had a customer that transcended beyond Australia that balanced what we were doing. It’s that belief in ourselves that we were able to make something outside of just Australia, to open stores in other places, and to appeal to the same kind of girl we knew in Australia,” said Simone. The house has become a fan favorite across the world for its ability to make any woman feel beautiful in their Zimmermann for whatever the occasion. “All the conversations in the design room are about trying to make people fall in love with a dress, when they do, they remember how they feel. It contributes to having a beautiful day, nice lunch, a fantastic birthday, enjoying a christening or wedding,” said Nicky. “I find it to be such a powerful thing to wear dresses that you find beautiful and feel beautiful in. It gives you real strength and changes the mood of your day. For us, that is how we use feminism in what we do, it empowers women to make them feel beautiful, strong, and confident. I mean when people tell me that, that is like the best compliment we could get.”
The Zimmermann sister’s family empire has sustained itself on staying true to heart and design. “I find that our collections are very true to the brand and I think that is so important because it makes sense to people,” said Nicky. “One of the things I’ve learned over the years, no matter what the trend is or whatever is going on, it’s incredibly important as a designer to stick to what you do and what you like and that can develop over the years and come out in different ways.” Now opening their 23rd store, the Zimmermann sisters lead with the same drive that was instilled in them as children cultivating their vision of creations that make women feel beautiful with the same ethos they began with 30 years ago.
Zimmermann’s Cannes boutique is now open at 11 Rue Des Etats-Unis in Cannes, France.
CREATIVE DIRECTION @EDOUARDRISSELET
MANICURE SABRINA PAPALIA
FASHION ASSISTANT @SIWARCHEIAKH
RETOUCHING ASH MOROS
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