Nicky Zimmermann is among few designers whose pandemic collections don’t look all that different from their “before” stuff. Flip through some lookbooks, and it’s obvious they were designed in gloomy times; not hers. If anything, her designs are sunnier and happier than ever. On a call from Sydney, Zimmermann credited her sister Simone, the label’s cofounder, and her husband, its CEO, for encouraging her to do what she does best: optimistic, exuberant, mood-lifting clothes. “Maybe they knew if I tried to do something else, it’d be bad,” Zimmermann joked. What they recognized early on was that women would crave lightness and beauty in moments of unease, and that as the pandemic eased (in certain parts of the world, at least), the demand for expressive, bold, “re-emerging” fashion would be greater than ever.
As such, resort 2022 is joyful. It’s a “true resort collection” in its emphasis on beachy, warm weather clothes and travel—in some cases, quite literally. Zimmermann stumbled upon James Northfield’s advertisements for Australian vacation spots in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, and worked with his estate to translate them into prints. Early in the lookbook, a ruched scarf dress features a postcard print made of multiple Northfield posters, while a button-down dress features a painterly landscape of Lorne, a surf town in Victoria.
The best looks resemble the souvenirs you might pick up on one of those trips: The opening dress was scattered with hand-placed 3-D flowers along the straps and bust, a bit like a deconstructed lei or the wildflowers you’d weave into your hair on the beach. Later on, a few minis were trimmed with long, swishy fringe threaded with seashells, a sultry, elevated spin on your usual beach finds. Zimmermann was excited about the tactility of those details and the personal, special touch they provide. That a seashell or 3-D flower is best enjoyed in person—not through a Zoom screen—may have something to do with it, too. We’re craving those hand-made, crafty things, but the win for Zimmermann is that hers don’t look like arts and crafts projects; they’re still grown-up and wearable.