'Accidental' designer wins inaugural Zampatti Foundation Award

Award recipient Sarah Lim with Carla Zampatti

Pictured: Award recipient Sarah Lim with Carla Zampatti. Photo: Anna Zhu

Sarah Lim, who says she came to fashion almost by accident, was today named the winner of the inaugural $25,000 Carla Zampatti Foundation Design Award at UTS – a prize that is one of the richest for a graduating fashion student in Australia.

Fashion icon Carla Zampatti launched the annual award at the University of Technology Sydney today, saying she hoped it would mean “growth, knowledge and a wider vision” for the winner, by supporting them in postgraduate study overseas.

In the longer term, her hope is that the award will enhance Australia’s fashion industry by helping develop unique and innovative young designers who have the potential for commercial longevity.

Lim, a UTS Fashion and Textiles graduate, will use the prize money to support further study in the Fashion Design and Society graduate program at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York.

Lim came to fashion via music and an interest in sub-cultures but says she can’t imagine doing anything else now.

“I’m so grateful to Carla Zampatti for both the award and the valuable feedback she has given me throughout the selection process,” she says.

"The support of an icon like Carla Zampatti not only provides a greater opportunity for our most outstanding graduates to succeed in their studies, but through them it will also have long-lasting impact on the Australian fashion industry"

Lim’s design aesthetic is focused on soft tailoring, mixed drapery and knitwear. She says her time at Parsons will broaden her experience and understanding of the global fashion industry and she hopes it will help refine her design “handwriting”.

As winner of the award, Lim will have the opportunity to intern in the Carla Zampatti studio ahead of her overseas study – she leaves for New York in August – and to return to the fashion house to complete a capsule collection.

Italian-born Zampatti knows the difference an early mentor and a global perspective made in her own career.

“A relative, early in my career, took me aside and gave me the advice to venture solo into business,” she says. “They also lent me the funds to pursue my dream.

“There have been others who supported my passion to create a fashion brand and given sage advice at pivotal times,” she says. “I’ve always believed in ‘paying it forward’ and nurturing and encouraging new talent. That’s why, in partnership with UTS, I’ve established this award.”

The Carla Zampatti Foundation Design Award is awarded to an honours student from the Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles at UTS, which was recently ranked number one in Australia and number 13 in the world in the Global Fashion School Rankings published by Business of Fashion.

“The support of an icon like Carla Zampatti not only provides a greater opportunity for our most outstanding graduates to succeed in their studies, but through them it will also have long-lasting impact on the Australian fashion industry – as Carla Zampatti herself has done,” UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs says of the award.

“These young designers will return to Australia with the potential to one day be the leaders of the industry and the fashion innovators of the future.”

The Head of the UTS School of Design, Professor Kate Sweetapple, says the sort of experience the award will support “sows the seeds for fashion innovation and business success” for graduates.

“The award provides a platform that, ultimately, could lead to a role with a senior label or the creation of their own label,” she says.

Graduates from the UTS degree have been prominent in awards for emerging designers and can be found in postgraduate programs at a range of international design schools.

The two other 2018 finalists, Jessica Guzman and Lily Xu have also been accepted into the Masters program at Parsons School of Design.

Byline: Lesley Parker