Brother and sister design duo Camilla and Marc Freeman have seen great success since the launch of their brand in 2003. Their namesake label is now stocked in Australia and internationally at major retailers such as David Jones, Saks Fifth Avenue and Net-a-Porter. Additionally they have also launched a diffusion line C&M, which comprises off duty pieces and swimwear. It has now been 15 years since they first showed at Australian Fashion Week, and this year, Camilla and Marc are opening this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) and I for one cannot wait to see their latest collection. I caught up with Camilla and Marc at their Sydney studio ahead of MBFWA to chat about what Fashion Week means to them and what we can expect from this Resort collection.
So guys are opening Fashion Week. Are you excited? How are you feeling?
Camilla: Excited. There’s a nice little hum in the office. Everyone’s really looking forward to it. The energy is definitely at a high.
Marc: We’re busy and there’s a nice, frenetic energy. But we’re organised and focused, and extremely excited to be opening the week.
What does it mean to you to open the week?
Marc: It’s really an honour. We’ve been in the industry now for a little while, so to be able to [show] at the beginning of the week is a huge honour.
What does Fashion Week mean to you guys? Why is it so important to show?
Marc: I think we love being able to put our range on the runway. To be able to present our vision in a immersive experience, to our customers, to our buyers, and to the media. So Fashion Week is really important to us, to be able to share that message.
Camilla: And not just that. I think also to be able to show all of those people the way that we would style the collection. That’s really important.
What can we expect to see on the runway?
Camilla: Some exciting things happening. We’ve been working on the show for about six to eight months. The set is going to be, as Marc said, a fully immersive experience. And the collection is looking beautiful. [Vogue Australia Fashion Director] Christine Centenera is flying in to style it.
Oh, wow. Fantastic.
Camilla: So we’ve got some exciting styling touches coming from her. And some interesting new silhouettes. And the rest, you’ll see.
What was your inspiration behind this collection?
Camilla: The resort collection was inspired by a strong, forward thinking woman. Which drove us from the very beginning, and it’s continued to do so. And you’ll see that on the runway.
How would you describe the Camilla & Marc woman?
Camilla: She’s strong, she’s effortless, confident. She is sensual and feminine as well. I think those two words are really important here, with the confident woman that I described before.
So as a brother and sister duo, is that easy working together or does it find its challenges as well?
Marc: Surprisingly easy… I think we’re very close, both in age and as individuals, so we find having a working relationship to be effortless. While the business of running a business and daily life are hectic, I think being able to rely on someone – your sister —
Camilla: [Someone you] trust implicitly.
Marc: Yeah, that you trust implicitly makes business a little bit easier
Have you always shared the same vision?
Camilla: Very much so. But we’ve got different strengths so that’s, I think, part of it. That’s part of the magic.
Marc: I think we share the same vision, but we often look at it ibn a slightly different way.
Camilla: Different angles.
Marc: So think that allows us to achieve our vision in a better way. In a more considerate, powerful, and better executed way.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
Camilla: I think trust is definitely one. We have an incredible team around us, who have been supportive in helping us build the business that we have today. And we wouldn’t be here without them. And each other.
Marc: A lot of hard work…But it’s shared vision and a great team that allows us to achieve it all.
You’ve had some pretty incredible celebrities wear your outfits. Is there one that stands out in your mind?
Camilla: Do you know what, we get often asked this question. And just seeing anyone and everyone—whoever is wearing our pieces—makes us feel really happy. There isn’t one person that we’ve gone, “That’s our dream.” It’s really been daily, weekly, monthly, when we were out and about and we see someone wearing one of our pieces or carrying one of our shopping bags. That’s the good stuff for me.
And do you tell them that it’s your brand?
Camilla: Yes. Well, I was just saying…The other day I was at a function and there was this beautiful woman wearing one of our Emory dresses from the current collection, and I went up to her and I said, “You look absolutely radiant. You look beautiful.” And she was so happy, and it’s nice when you can, you know…touch someone like that.
What is the most satisfying part about having a successful brand?
Camilla: I think there’s a lot of things. Being able to wake up every day and know that you’re going to a place that you absolutely love to go. And see the people, and the people that are around us, they really inspire us—inspire me—every day.
If you could have anyone wear your brand, who would you dress?
Camilla: Honestly, again like we were saying before, there isn’t one person. It’s just – it’s the journey of seeing people, you know? That’s what makes it worthwhile.
What are the biggest challenges you face being in the Australian fashion industry?
Camilla: I think that it’s the opposite. It’s not challenges, it’s we are so far removed from everywhere else in the world. I actually think that we have advantages. We’ve got an amazing landscape that inspire us every day. We’re ahead of everybody.
Camilla: In terms of timezone, and really the only downside is you lose a day when you fly back from wherever you’ve been. Apart from that, I feel like there’s more pluses than negatives.
Marc: I think Australia is a really fortunate place. I think we’ve got quite an affluent country. And people love fashion here. So I think while we are long way away from the rest of the world, I think we have an amazing country that really embraces Australian designers…So we’ve been fortunate to be able to build a really strong business in our backyard.
Do you think living in Australia influences your brand?
Camilla: Certainly. I think the landscape, number one. Light. Colour. It definitely affects our decisions when we’re going through the design process and choosing colours. When you look at say, London life versus Australian life, it’s just so different.
Marc: And likewise, we get to travel a lot. So I think being an Australian, everyone travels. Just to go anywhere is far, whether it’s in Australia or outside of Australia. I think by virtue of the way we live geographically, we get to experience the world and learn by the world. We come from an English lineage, but we really are a melting pot for all nationalities globally. So I think there is a unique lifestyle happening in Sydney, in Australia, that influences us on a daily basis.
What’s been your biggest career highlight so far?
Camilla: So far, I would say this. There isn’t one. Every day is a journey for us. Every day we are continuing to enjoy, inspire, be challenged. It’s just a continuous journey. I think we are so privileged to be able to do what we do and be able to love what we do, that I just…Every day is a highlight, and it continues.
Marc: Yeah, I was going to say It’s a journey. And that’s what we love about having our own business; that we’re able to go on that journey, and particularly go on that together. The two of us and with our team. So I think there’s no specific one, but it’s the small things that really get us excited.
What’s your number one styling tip?
Camilla: Don’t even start to get dressed until you feel fantastic about yourself. Then when you’ve put all those pieces on, just make sure you’re comfortable, because that’s the most important thing, I think. Every woman should feel confident and comfortable and beautiful in their own skin.
What’s the number one wardrobe essential?
Camilla: A fabulously tailored blazer.
What is your favourite piece from the runway [current collection]?
Camilla: I do. I have a jade Lurex funnel neck top and skirt, that I just can’t wait to wear. And I can’t wear it until the runway is done, so it will be one of my first outfits that I wear.
Do you only ever wear Camilla & Marc?
Camilla: I wear lots of Camilla & Marc, but I definitely wear other brands. I like to mix it up. And then there are days where I’m head to toe.
Where do you see Camilla & Marc in five years time?
Camilla: Continuing to evolve. Continuing to do what we do. Continuing to try and be better at what we do.
Fashion Week Five:
Shows I attended: Camilla and Marc
Location: Royal Hall of Industries
Fave show: Camilla and Marc of course!
Biggest trend I saw: Oversized silhouettes, tailoring, pastel prints and striking tailored blazers
The highlight of the day: Seeing Victoria’s Secret model Georgia Fowler on the runway in a green metallic dress. And the set— the transformation of the The Royal Hall of Industries into an Australian desert environment was incredible.