It was the standout runway show of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2018. A magical closing event that saw the walls of its hanger-like Carraigeworks draped in blossom-print fabric and the floors ankle-deep in faux blossom petals. In the centre, a fully-grown cherry blossom tree trucked in especially for the event, a dozen traditional musicians seated below to supply the soundtrack for the pre-show spectacle.
And then there were the clothes. Inspired by a recent trip to Japan, it celebrated Camilla’s first full foray into ready-to-wear. Bomber jackets, tailored blazers, floating dresses and even a tracksuit were emblazoned with the brand’s signature colourful prints, diamontes and brass hardware.
The standing ovation from the audience at the show’s close – the first I’ve ever witnessed at an Australian fashion show – was a testament to the collection and the goodwill the industry feels toward Camilla Franks herself, who had just welcomed her first child and announced she was battling cancer concurrently.
Fittingly, the second part of this Japan-inspired range, called The Girl I Was, The Woman I Am, celebrates femininity and change. The collection pushes further into new territory for the brand with inclusions of modern fabrics like leather and denim but was inspired by the concept of vintage kimonos being passed down through generations.
Also fitting was the location that regular GRAZIA magazine cover photographer Steven Chee and his stylist wife Marina Didovich travelled to with the Camilla team for this shoot. “We shot most of the campaign in Tokyo really channelling our travel and experience through Japan last year: the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern,” says Camilla’s head designer Jenna Redfern. “We also produced some additional shots back here on the ground in Sydney.”
In a world exclusive, GRAZIA reveals the new collection and its campaign shoot here, accompanied by an interview with Redfern, who has been with Franks ever since they were a design team of just two. (Today, that that team counts 50.)
How long have you worked at Camilla? “Look, this is a long story but here’s the short version. I basically rocked up at Camilla’s doorstep with my portfolio seven years ago when I was 19 and asked for some work and we just clicked. I’d already been working at another fashion brand but saw she was looking for assistants and I had been intrigued by the brand. One thing led to another and we went from a design team of two to where we are now at 50. So it’s been pretty cool to reflect on what we have done together and to see what I have had the opportunity to learn. Camilla’s always been really open to what I wanted to design or propose, and I think I’ve always tried to entertain and encourage Camilla’s creativity.
“She’s an incredibly inspiring woman to be around and an amazing creative force and I’ve had the honour to grow up in her company. She’s taught me everything I know, and we have become as close as sisters.”
Congrats on the release of your Japan collection’s part 2. How has this collection evolved or changed from the first one? The Resort 2018 collection – part of our The Girl I Was, The Woman I Am collection – was super fun to design. It’s a much more playful vibe. We were inspired by colourful vintage kimono patterns and spliced them up with modern, bold, opposing colour stripes and geo borders. As it’s dropping closer to summer, we introduced some new seasonal styles such as high-waisted shorts with wide obi-style belts and have added linen to the range, adding that extra depth to our prints.
Can you explain the collection’s name and what it means in a fashion sense? The Girl I Was, The Woman I Am describes the journey from who you once were to who you become. Above all, the collection is a celebration of identity. The more we reflected on the many identities women assume throughout their lives, the more we realised the rites of passage from girlhood to womanhood are universal.
“We referenced days spent playing dress-ups as a young girl in grandmother’s wardrobe, spending hours trying on different dresses and identities. There were no rules for us back then and there shouldn’t be rules in fashion now.”
Can you explain the fashion direction of this collection in your own words? The first part of this collection saw the launch of our first official ready-to-wear range. This has been something we’ve been building up to for a few seasons. The team is now playing with new styles; fitted tailoring and separates, leather, denim, new fabrications and embellishments to complement our famous crystal necklines. We really tapped into what we saw on our travels for styling ideas – channelling the strong lines of kimonos and the wrapping of obi belts and clashing them with our unique feminine style.
What are the key looks or hero products in this collection? Although it’s a Resort range we have introduced some beautiful lighter weight knits that we have been perfecting for a while. The metallic set is my favourite; I’m a sucker for a knit flare. Our oversized balloon jumpsuit has got to be another of my personal favourites. We have also produced a line of solid prints – black, white and navy – that has a new feel for us. Denim is also a personal highlight. I kind of live in denim, so to me, it’s a super wearable addition to the range.
It’s well known that Camilla is taking some important time out for her family and health. How does it feel to be head of this much-loved brand during her absence, particularly after the spectacular success of its fashion week show? I have been working side by side with Camilla for years, who is still very much involved with every single creative decision. Natalie Wood joined our team as Design Director last year and it has been amazing to work collaboratively with her, Camilla and our incredible design team. I think the success of the runway show was very inspiring for us to take the collection to the next level. We haven’t done a runway of that scale in a while. It’s such a beautiful feeling to see your work on that platform and the team and I were incredibly proud. We all have a deep respect for Camilla and it is a great honour to help bring her vision to life.
SEE MORE OF CAMILLA JAPAN 2018 PART 2 BELOW