Merino wool inspires Camilla & Marc

29 April 2014

In creating their second 2014 winter collection, renowned Australian fashion label Camilla & Marc based the capsule range around Merino wool.

Camilla & MarcOver more than a decade in the industry, brother and sister design team Marc Freeman and Camilla Freeman-Topper have built their brand up to be one of the most sought after labels on the local scene. Regular fixtures at Australian Fashion Week - often holding the coveted opening show of the week, reserved for the biggest names in the business - Camilla & Marc also have a strong international following.

For a fashion label normally accustomed to drawing design inspiration from art, culture or past eras, using Merino wool as their muse marked something of a departure for the brand.

“It inspired us in terms of techniques,” Freeman-Topper explains. “That was really important, to just let it evolve naturally rather than have a specific point of influence.”

For the design duo, that meant working with the natural qualities of the fleece.

“We didn’t want to overly develop textural effects,” says Freeman-Topper. “We wanted to leave it in its natural form. For me, Merino wool is so beautiful and it kind of speaks for itself and has this relaxed luxurious feeling to it and we didn’t want to steer away too much from that.”

The collection is ultimately an expression of the many facets of Merino wool, featuring cosy knitwear, chic dresses and smart tailoring.

The collection is the latest chapter in an ongoing association between the brand and The Woolmark Company, one that Freeman-Topper says has been incredibly eye-opening.

“It first started with the [2012] Wool Modern dress that we painstakingly took weeks to develop,” she says. “It was great to be able to do that and it was worth it in the end because we were very proud of the piece and there were a lot of people who got an enormous amount of enjoyment out of it and it helped Woolmark as well which is really important. And from there we’ve worked closely [together].”

The venture was so successful, Camilla & Marc returned to Wool Modern, this time in Korea in 2014. Behind the scenes, however, the designer says that working with The Woolmark Company has been good for business.

“They’ve been really helpful in providing amazing insights into the wool industry,” she says. “What we’ve learnt just from working with them has been amazing, but also the contacts in the mills overseas that they’ve been able to establish - it’s just been a really lovely natural relationship which is also rare in these situations which is really nice.”

As an Australian brand with a high profile abroad, Freeman-Topper is always keen to tout the credentials of Aussie talent and expertise and working with The Woolmark Company has helped in that regard.
“A lot of the mills that we work with overseas work with local Merino,” she say. “It was funny, a lot of them we’d worked with for many years and [before working with The Woolmark Company] we didn’t even know they used local Merino. So we’ve had these longstanding relationships and it just makes it a lot stronger when you realise it’s home grown.”

On the flipside, the association with The Woolmark Company has also allowed the pair to work with new mills and suppliers around the world.

“They’re new and thriving relationships,” Freeman-Topper says.