Celebrating International Women’s Day

The Art of Her. Carla Zampatti.
Carla Zampatti, Executive Chairman, Carla Zampatti. Carla Zampatti Jacket, $899. Carla Zampatti Pants, $499.

In celebration of International Women’s Day (held on March 8) we reached out to 8 inspiring and influential women in the David Jones family for their expert advice on everything from tackling career challenges to the importance of connecting with true self.

Carla Zampatti, Executive Chairman, Carla Zampatti

One of Australia’s most beloved designers, Carla Zampatti has been lighting up the local fashion scene with her signature aesthetic since 1965. Known for smart suits and tailoring, (as well as elegant evening pieces), Zampatti knows first-hand the power of the everyday working wardrobe. “I have lived the life of a corporate woman, so I can anticipate the needs of my clients because I've experienced them myself,” she says.

Over the years Italian-Australian businesswoman has been formally recognised with a number of local and international awards, including the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). She is also a board member of the Australian Multicultural Foundation and the European Australian Business Council. Of chasing one’s career goals she says: “It’s very important to dream – don’t be afraid to fantasise. And when you think you can do it, just do it.”

History works against us because traditionally women haven’t been at the forefront. But now we’re determined to be there

Carla Zampatti

Discover Carla Zampatti, here.

Katie Somerville, Senior Curator, Fashion & Textiles, National Gallery of Victoria

The Art of Her. Katie Somerville.
Katie Somerville, Senior Curator, Fashion & Textiles, National Gallery of Victoria. Camilla & Marc Blazer, $899. Camilla & Marc Trousers, $599. Lee Matthews Cami, $129. Aquazzura Shoes, $949.

Colleagues describe Katie Somerville as erudite and serene. For the senior curator of fashion and textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria, both those traits often come in handy. Case in point: the launch of the super-successful The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture exhibition. Three years in the making, Somerville describes the lead-up as a “remarkable once in a lifetime opportunity requiring several trips abroad and regular phone calls to Paris – a wonderful period of immersive research.”

Currently preparing for the launch of a showcase of haute couture and Parisian fashion from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century, named The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift in honour of its benefactor, Somerville says fashion has been somewhat overlooked as a powerful medium for inspiring ideas and growth. “When you reflect on the last 100 years,” she says, “Fashion has been a catalyst in terms of societal shifts.” “It has coloured how we view ourselves and also how we express ourselves – whether through rebellion or a need to conform.”

Fashion is a very powerful medium with which we can drive change

Katie Somerville

Discover the National Gallery of Victoria, here.

Molly McMahon & Anna McRae, Managing Director & Creative Director, Molmic

The Art of Her. Molly McMahon & Anna McRae.
Molly McMahon & Anna McRae, Managing Director & Creative Director, Molmic. Molly: Bassike T-Shirt, $105. Lee Matthews Skirt, $339. Barcs Bracelet, $39.95. Cult Gaia Earrings, $239. Bally Shoes, $870. Anna: Carla Zampatti Trench, $1,099. Carla Zampatti Cami, $369. Carla Zampatti Pants, $529.

Now into its third decade, handmade furniture manufacturer Molmic is as much about family as it is furnishings. These days, founders Molly and Michael are joined by their four children in the Melbourne-based business, including Anna McRae, as the brand’s creative director. According to McRae, the family’s focus on kinship is catching – Molmic boasts a loyal team of talented craftspeople who have been on board since the very beginning. Of McMahon, McRae says: “From a very young age, our mother was a strong force.” Known for her focus and determination, the family matriarch says she doesn’t believe in giving up: “When I put my mind to something, I have to achieve it. There is no such thing as can’t, I just don’t give up until I get there.”

Because of my mother, I’ve never really seen a difference between men and women – I’ve always believed women are capable of doing anything

Anna McRae

Discover Molmic, here.

Anne Sullivan, Head of APAC & CEO Australia, Georg Jensen

The Art of Her. Anne Sullivan.
Anne Sullivan, Head of APAC & CEO Australia, Georg Jensen. Carla Zampatti Cami, $369. Malone Souliers Shoes, $899. Skirt & Necklace In-store Only.

Anne Sullivan began her retail career at the upmarket department store Georges in Melbourne. It was there she was given the opportunity to complete an Executive Retail Management program which saw her passion for all things retail grow. In 1999, Georg Jensen approached Sullivan to develop their retail business and she quickly identified the Australian market’s affinity with the classic Danish aesthetic. Today, with a network of 14 stand-alone stores and 33 David Jones concessions, Australia is Georg Jensen’s largest market outside of Scandinavia. Sullivan was appointed Georg Jensen Australia CEO in 2009, and CEO of Asia Pacific in 2018.

Being a leader within the male-dominated retail industry means Sullivan is passionate about inspiring female leadership within the Georg Jensen business. “You’ve got to find yourself”, she says. “That’s the hardest thing to discover in a career, but women certainly have the confidence, ability and skillset to dominate.”  

Have faith in yourself and pursue your dream, at any cost.

Anne Sullivan

Discover Georg Jensen, here.

Pip Edwards, Co-founder & Creative Director, P.E Nation

The Art of Her. Pip Edwards.
Pip Edwards, Co-founder & Creative Director, PE Nation. Balenciaga Hoodie, $1,099. Chloé Shoes, $1,199. P.E Nation Pants Coming Soon.

Pip Edwards is one of the most influential Australians in the fashion-meets-fitness space. A former commerce/law student, she co-founded athleisure label P.E Nation in 2016 after cutting her teeth in design and buying at sass & bide, General Pants and Ksubi. As a brand, P.E Nation has been buzzy since day one, with its launch collection selling out online within hours. Creative director Edwards has been pivotal to this success, using the brand to encourage activity and inspire customers to take on life. Known for her authentic approach, the businesswoman advises others to “find what they stand for”. “Having a unique voice, sticking to it and not compromising works wonders,” she says.

Having a unique voice and sticking to it works wonders.

Pip Edwards

Discover P.E Nation, here.

Jess Gomes, Founder, Equal Beauty

The Art of Her. Jess Gomes.
Jess Gomes, Founder, Equal Beauty. C&M Camilla & Marc Bodysuit, $119. Balenciaga Skirt, $2,279. Amber Sceats Earrings, $129. Balenciaga Boots, $2,710.

Model and founder of her own line of Australian-made, fragrance-free skincare, Jess Gomes says she stands for embracing true self in everything she does. “At this point in my life I know what works for me, so I stick to that,” she explains. “I like to keep it very natural and minimal.” Equal Beauty mirrors Gomes’ own simple approach with a focus on efficacious Australian ingredients and botanicals. The brand is also about inclusiveness and diversity (it’s in the name, after all), by way of encouraging women to embrace their inner beauty and be proud in their own skin. “If you can step out your door and be you, that’s when everything falls into place, whatever it is you want to do,” says Gomes.

If you can be your truth, that’s when everything falls into place

Jess Gomes

Discover Equal Beauty, here.

Pippa Hallas, CEO, Ella Baché

The Art of Her. Pippa Hallas.
Pippa Hallas, CEO, Ella Baché. Bianca Spender Dress, $745. Carla Zampatti Pants, $529. Samantha Wills Earrings, $89.95. Aquazzura Shoes, $999.

Ella Baché was founded in Paris in the 1930s by pharmacist Ella Baché and beauty therapist Edith Hallas, Pippa Hallas’s great aunt and grandmother respectively. The duo brought the brand to Australia in the 1950s, eventually naming Pippa’s father John as the sole owner of the company and chairman of the board. After a successful career in advertising and marketing, Pippa later joined as head of marketing, swiftly becoming CEO. Of the female-led beginnings of the company she says: “I feel blessed to have been born into a family that supported women who ran businesses – this was  at a time when women didn’t go to university and didn’t run companies. They certainly forged the way and that has shaped my own beliefs around what I could do with my life.”

Women can have their own style as leaders these days

Pippa Hallas

Discover Ella Baché, here.

For International Women's Day, we asked some of our favourite designers, CEOs and photographers to share what womanhood means to them.