Haunting final images of Australian fashion icon Carla Zampatti show the legendary designer relaxing with friends while attending what would be her last red carpet at an event in Sydney
Opera Australia will conduct a ‘comprehensive’ safety review after the tragic death of iconic designer Carla Zampatti.
The 78-year-old died at St Vincent’s Hospital on Saturday morning – a week after she fell down stairs at an outdoor opening performance of Opera Australia’s La Traviata on Sydney Harbour.
The mother-of-three and grandmother to nine was knocked unconscious after falling on the bottom steps of the staircase and was rushed to hospital, but couldn’t be saved.
Witnesses claimed workers with a power drill were ‘working furiously’ on the stairs during the interval of the show, The Daily Telegraph reported.
This was denied by Opera Australia, who said the ‘compliant’ stairs were given ‘some additional measures’ for greater access to and from seating areas.
‘In line with OA’s policies and procedures, OA is conducting a comprehensive review of the site and incident. OA is committed to all aspects of the safety of our site and patrons,’ the spokeswoman said.
Zampatti, 78, tragically died a week after falling down stairs while attending the opening night of Verdi’s La Traviata opera on Sydney Harbour. She is pictured at the event
The spokeswoman said work was not done to the stairs near Zampatti’s fall during the show but ‘prior to the interval there was some minor work done in an area not related to the incident’.
Opera Australia earlier said they were ‘deeply saddened’ by the news of Zampatti’s death.
‘Zampatti was an Australian fashion icon and a passionate supporter of the arts who will be greatly missed,’ a statement said.
‘Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies are with her family at this time.’
Opera Australia was asked to respond to comments from Zampatti’s contemporary and ABC Chair Ita Buttrose that the stairs were dangerous and needed improvement.
‘The stairs are very dangerous at the opera,’ Buttrose told ABC TV.
‘Install some rails because otherwise other people might fall as well.’
The comprehensive safety review comes as Zampatti’s family accepted the NSW government’s offer of a state funeral.
Born in Italy in 1942, Zampatti (pictured) migrated to Australia in 1950 at age nine, setting up her fashion famous label at 24
In a statement on Sunday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian described the designer as ‘talented, generous and inspiring. A true trailblazer in every respect’.
‘On behalf of the people of NSW, I extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Carla.’ the statement said.
Details of the State Funeral will be provided in the coming days.
Born in Italy in 1942, Zampatti migrated to Australia in 1950 at age nine, setting up her fashion famous label at 24.
Her designs have been worn by some of Australia’s most influential women, including Princess Mary of Denmark, Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman and Ms. Berejiklian.
‘Carla has long been celebrated for making Australian women feel confident and elegant through her exceptional design, tailoring and understanding of the modern woman,’ her family said in a statement.
A general view from the OpenAir Cinemas at Macquaries Point in Sydney
Zampatti was named Australian Designer of the Year in 1994, awarded the Australian Fashion Laureate in 2008 and a year later was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia, Australia’s highest civilian honour.
Daughter Bianca, who followed in her mother’s footsteps as a designer, posted an emotional tribute to her ‘inspiration’ on Instagram.
‘Today I lost my mother, my inspiration, my mentor and my friend. I am lost for words and totally heartbroken,’ she wrote.
‘She leaves an undeniable legacy behind, and will remain a constant in the hearts of her loving family, friends and women all over Australia.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also paid tribute, saying it had been a great honour to have known her.
‘Carla was an icon to the fashion industry, a pioneer as an entrepreneur and a champion of multicultural Australia,’ he said.
‘Her contribution to our nation will be timeless, just like her designs.’
Zampatti’s family have accepted the NSW government’s offer of a state funeral