Local fashion designer on the move

Wendy Johnson 5 March 2018
Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

Yumi Morrissey: designer behind Zilpah tart.

Canberra’s Yumi Morrissey is on the move and 2018 is going to be a massive year.

The local fashion designer, who owns the label Zilpah tart, has launched a corporate line of dresses for women who want to ‘look the part’ at work, while remaining comfortable and stylish. She’s just returned from a fabric buying trip to Sydney and is now super busy designing this year’s autumn/winter collection, which will feature new styles, new fabrics and new approaches. Yumi is also planning to expand interstate.

Yumi opened her label Zilpah tart in 2007 after graduating in fashion design from the Canberra Institute of Technology. Over the years, she has slowly but steadily built one of the capital’s most successful independent labels.

The corporate range is a radical change from the bright, bold patterns and designs Zilpah tart is so well known for. The four dresses in the initial collection come in solid black, navy and royal blue. The styles, however, remain true to the label’s aesthetic.


Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

“I’ve always designed shapes that flatter the female form,” says Yumi. “Styles that are comfortable and easy-to-wear but make the wearer stand out. Styles that suit confident women who appreciate Australian-made products. This won’t change.”

So what was the inspiration behind the corporate wear?

“A friend asked me to make a print dress she had bought from me in a solid colour, because she works in an office that has more of a conservative personality,” says Yumi. “I’ve always listened carefully to customer feedback. Why wouldn’t you? My friend had talked to other professional women about the idea, who agreed, and so I jumped on it.”

Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

As with all Zilpah tart designs, the corporate pieces aren’t trend-based and so last for many years. Yumi’s customers are fans of the quality polyester jersey she often uses which falls well on the body and is a snap to care for. It washes and dries easily, avoiding the need for dry cleaning.

The four new styles are designed to take the wearer easily from day to night. Yumi, who designs, cuts and sews all garments herself in her Canberra studio, will introduce new corporate pieces over time and adjust colours for changing seasons.

Yumi sells the new range through the Gungahlin Collective and her website. She also sells Zilpah tart out of the Design A Space Retail Gallery, Manchester Lane, Melbourne, and is hoping to stock the corporate wear in the city so famous for loving black. With her more colourful patterns, Yumi is looking to expand into two other states—Queensland and Sydney.

Zilpah tart’s autumn/winter collection will include coats made out of black wool (with Yumi’s bright prints as lining), dresses out of wool jersey and skirts out of cotton sateen.

“I’m determined to take my label to the next level in 2018,” says Yumi. “To remain commercially viable in a creative industry, you must be responsive and flexible, without adopting a scatter gun approach. You need to stay true to who you are and focus on what you want.”

Zilpah tart designs are worn by women across Australia and in more than 10 countries overseas (to date), including Dubai, Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“For Canberrans, my print designs have a special connection to home and environment,” says Yumi. “For women overseas, including those in the diplomatic community and tourists, the designs also have a special connection with our capital.”

For more information, visit: www.zilpahtart.com.au

Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

Photo: Yumi Morrissey.

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