"The gauges, textures and finishes always inspire us and this particularly influenced the collection."
Under the creative direction of Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman, the Camilla and Marc label has spent more than a decade as one of Australia's most high-profile fashion labels. And for this season's second winter collection, the pair approached things a little differently, conceptualising a capsule range based on Merino wool.
The starting point, Freeman-Topper says, was the fleece itself.
"We usually draw inspiration from artists, designers, time periods or artistic periods," she says. "But we kind of wanted to work wholly with the textile to see what options we had, the limitations and possibilities open to us and from that we just kind of let it evolve naturally and let the material do the talking."
What the textile revealed to the design duo was a versatile personality. While Camilla and Marc didn't set out specifically to explore the many facets of Merino, doing so became quite deliberate once the brother and sister team began working with the fabric. The more involved they became in the process, the more determined they were to rely on the textile’s inherent beauty rather than adding elaborate textural effects.
"It all felt quite right. The beautiful part of it was the organic process," Freeman-Topper says. "We went with a fine, medium weight Merino wool so we could get the variance in body and softness. I guess what we felt was an overall luxurious feel, very relaxed weekend wear with that element of evening wear which you see in the dress."
"With this particular capsule it was important to keep Merino wool in its original form."
Camilla and Marc's second winter capsule collection is the latest chapter in the label's association with Merino wool and The Woolmark Company which took off with the 2012 Wool Modern exhibition in Sydney with a dress that Freeman-Topper says took weeks of 'painstaking' work to complete.
"It was one of those really beautiful experiences where we were asked to be included and we said 'you know what, it’s just going to be one piece that we just take our time figuring out'," she explains. For a brand more accustomed to turning out several collections a year to feed the fashionable appetite of their customers, the Wool Modern experience was a refreshing change.
"Actually working for a long period on the piece was really nice because it's very rare for us to do that," she says. "It was really unusual, but we knew about it in advance so we could block out a two or three week period in the design room and it was very luxurious for us."
The label returned to the Wool Modern exhibition in 2014, this time in South Korea. As a brand with a rapidly growing international profile, Freeman-Topper believes strongly in embracing all things Australian.
"Yes, yes and yes," she says emphatically when asked if it's important to spruik Australian-ness overseas. "Absolutely, we're so proud of where we come from. To be able to portray that is really, really important to us. And people have a soft spot for Australians as well, you know? We have a unique sensibility to us."
And so the synergy of the label working with a uniquely Australian textile is obvious.
"For me, Merino wool is so beautiful and it kind of speaks for itself," Freeman-Topper says. "It has this relaxed, luxurious feeling to it and we didn’t want to steer away too much from that."