Palm Beach, Pancakes and Packing Tips: Nicky Zimmermann’s Insider Guide to Sydney

Meet Nicky Zimmermann, the Founder of eponymous label Zimmermann, Sydney’s cult clothing brand. Following Zimmermann's Fall 2021 RTW show, the designer reveals her favourite pieces, go-to beaches and shares her packing secrets. Spoiler alert: don’t pack light.

Stroll up and down Sydney's Bondi beach and you'll be forgiven for thinking you've stumbled across a Zimmermann runway show. Paisley print bikinis are spotted on cool-girl surfers; laser-cut white ruffled dresses seen in the coffee shops and chiffon, bell sleeve playsuits have long been considered a weekend bottomless brunch uniform. In short, Zimmermann is synonymous with Sydney's laid-back style.

Nicky Zimmermann founded the eponymous label in 1991, after graduating from The Fashion Design Studio. After crafting clothes in her parent's garage, selling them on a weekend market stall in Paddington and landing a double-page spread in Vogue Australia, she opened her first boutique in Darlinghurst. Fast forward today and there's Zimmermann boutiques stretching from Los Angeles to London, Sydney to Saks Fifth Avenue.

Following Zimmermann's Fall 2021 RTW show, the Australian designer shares her little black book of Sydney's best bits. Beaches, breakfast spots and the Australian designers we should be stashing in our suitcases, here's Nicky Zimmermann's guide to the Harbour City.

Describe Sydney's vibe in three words…

Optimistic, relaxed, beautiful.

What's the city's dress code?

Sydneysiders tend to be a lot more relaxed in our style choices than other parts of the world. In the summer, you always see a woman with a nice cotton dress over her swimsuit out and about.

What key pieces do you always pack when travelling?

If I'm going to be on a long-haul flight then I'll bring a concoction of moisturisers as my skin gets so dry on the plane. Augustinus Bader Rich Cream and Face Oil are amazing for combating the drying effects of the air-conditioning.

Right before landing I will do a face mask, my go-to is 111 Skin Brightening Facial Mask as it's extremely moisturising.

I live in fear of lost luggage, so I'll always take a few outfits with me in my carry on. Think breezy, cotton dresses and a swimsuit if I'm going somewhere hot.

How would you describe the Zimmermann aesthetic?

Feminine, colourful, optimistic and fun.

Some of your favourite Zimmermann pieces are...

I think the Lovestruck Flounce midi dress is the ultimate party dress. The vibrant paisley print exudes a fun spirit. We've used a crinoline tape in the hem which gives the dress this beautiful buoyancy - the dress dances when you walk in it.

Our Graffiti Print linen dress also gives off really understated, cool-girl vibes. Graffiti prints are traditionally tough, but the words are soft and beautiful, like "love" and "kiss", and there are love hearts that you'd find engraved on trees by young lovers printed all over.

I'm currently wearing the Lace Up Golf shoes with everything! It's refined, modern and a bit of fun that works with all looks.

We're thinking of taking an extended workation in Sydney, what neighborhood should we move to?

Anywhere in the Eastern Suburbs is fun - Coogee, Bondi, Tamarama, Paddington. All are so close to the beach and you're spoiled with great restaurants and bars.

Underrated spots worth exploring...

Some of the lesser known beaches like Parsley Bay or Shark Beach are spectacular.

Where are the best beaches in the city…

Camp Cove is a firm favourite, or some of the surf beaches like Bronte, Tamarama, and Bondi. It's hard to get it wrong in Sydney, we really are spoilt when it comes to a beautiful beach.

How do we nail that effortless Bondi beach look?

You'd be wearing a Zimmermann dress from our swim collection slung over your bikini, have a carefree attitude and be having a great time!

Where should we head on a Saturday night?

Alberto's Lounge is a great little Italian speakeasy bursting with charm and character and the food is also delicious. Charlie Parker's in Paddington has a great vibe, it's kind of dark and mysterious bar with a basement feel to it, and they do a great Martini.

And for a coffee Sunday morning?

Umu Organic in Bondi.

What about for a lazy brunch?

It's got to be Bills in Bondi. They do the best ricotta hotcakes and you can stroll down to the beach afterwards, or head off on the coastal Bondi to Bronte walk.

Any other food spots we should know about?

I love Sean's in Bondi. It is cute, homely and right across the road from the beach. I love the relaxed feeling you have when dining there. You also can't visit Sydney without having lunch at Bondi Icebergs in Bondi - the view is spectacular.

One place only locals know about is…

If I mention the place I'm thinking of the locals would never talk to me again! Next time you're in Sydney, ask somewhere where their favourite spot in the city is and head there.

Suggestions for day-trips?

Palm Beach is about an hour north of the city. It gets very busy in the Summer but it's also lovely in the winter. There are cute little cafes like The Boathouse and a nice walk on the beach and up to the Barrenjoey lighthouse at the northern tip of the beach.

Let's talk shopping. Name some of your favourite stores in the city…

For Australian Designers, I love The Intersection at Glenmore Road in Paddington. It has this small, village vibe and the area has always been central to fashion in Australia. The neighbourhood has a good mix of established and emerging designers. Mecca is another great Australian store where you can find all your cult beauty products.

Share with us some tips on how to nail the perfect airport outfit...

I like to wear something light-weight. A chic linen suit with a t-shirt or a cashmere knit underneath, sneakers, always. Oh, and an oversized bag to carry everything you need.

And finally, what's in your SUITCASE?

I always try to have fun with my clothes when I'm on holiday and I definitely don't pack light. I can never have too many hats - bucket hats, oversized straw hats or a wide brim boater with a necktie - several swimsuits to change into throughout the day. Plus, something I can be more active in, then something a bit more fun and frivolous. I love to have a few white, cotton dresses; some vintage, chiffon dresses to throw over a swimsuit; a big, casual tote for beach days or exploring.

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City Guide: Sydney