Carla Zampatti joined an exclusive club on Sunday night that includes Johanna Johnson, Narcisco Rodriguez and Carolina Herrera when she became the latest Mercedes-Benz Presents designer. Her slick, streamlined and sexy spring/summer 2015 collection marked the official launch of Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week and warmed up the runway at Carriageworks for another year.

Mercedes-Benz has sponsored local fashion endeavours for 19 years and now hosts events in 28 countries around the world. On receiving the offer to launch 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, Carla Zampatti said: “I am delighted to work in partnership with a brand like Mercedes-Benz. It is synonymous with innovative, timeless design and excellent quality just like my own brand. I feel very honoured to have been asked to open this prestigious event.”

In her show, historical references abounded – from Studio 54 to 1940s film noir – but Zampatti updated her allusions with modern detailing and on-point hair and makeup (wet ponytails slung low, and a dewy sheen across cheekbones and t-zones). In a mostly monochromatic colour palette – interrupted only by shots of chartreuse silk, and the collection’s closing looks in royal blue and Zampatti’s signature tomato red – the range was all business, all woman.

Key looks, such as a slinky black jumpsuit with subtle kick flares, were accessorised with thick black chokers and polished gold belts or cuffs. Necklines were cut high and haltered in a sporty, ’90s minimalist style, and there were plenty of racy cutaways and daring slits, whether along the back seam of cropped blouses or dissecting the billowing hem of an evening dress. There was a confidence to the collection that comes both from Zampatti’s experience and her reputation.

Many looks had a compelling, cinematic presence. Steph Carta – in a strapless lime-hued cocktail dress – was all Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman, and Madison Brown, could have walked off the set of American Hustle in her diaphanous silk gown and feathered jacket. Needless to say, Zampatti’s string of celebrity admirers – from Ita Buttrose and Paula Abdul to Emma Lung and Dami Im – lined the front row, suggesting that life might imitate art very soon.

CEO of Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific and Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Mr Horst von Sanden commented that "bringing two iconic brands together at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia was an easy decision. Carla Zampatti is synonymous with innovative, timeless design and unrivalled excellence – all qualities that Mercedes-Benz also value highly, so the partnership was the perfect fit."

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