Top Fashion Designer: Camilla Franks

Camilla Franks is a former theatre actress. Camilla designed and created her ownflamboyant costumes that naturally translated into her debut kaftan collection. It was a simple kaftan concept hat would change the course of Australian fashion history and inspire a new direction of beach and resort fashion.

The Camilla label brings worldly charm, personality and exotic flavour to timeless fashion. “It’s a label that doesn’t discriminate,” says the designer who constantly travels the world in search of inspiration. “I design for all shapes and sizes – all personalities and walks of life – I just want to make women look and feel beautiful whether it’s in a figure-hugging micro mini or a lavishly bejewelled cocktail dress”.

During 2007, Camilla launched her ‘Women of the World’ book in association with UNIFEM – The Women’s Fund for the United Nations. Available nationally in David Jones, the 100% non-profit coffee table book pays tribute to 100 influential and inspiring

The queen of hearts says the “Women of the World book plays a pivotal role in raising awareness and funds for UNIFEM about critical issues that face woman such as gaining economic independence, increasing access to education, preventing injustice and stopping abuse and violence.” The book has donated more than $85,000 in contributions to the Laos Economic Empowerment of Women in the Textile Project.

Due to Camilla’s overwhelming success in Dubai, she was flown over by Harvey Nichols Dubai as their special guest of honour to close their 2007 Spring Summer Collection Parade from which she received rave reviews.

During August 2008, Camilla made history as the first Australian designer to be personally invited aboard The World – one of the globe’s most exclusive luxury cruise liners.

Camilla’s signature colourful and handmade graphic prints take centre stage in each of her ranges and are a true testament to her ever-increasing global stockist’s popularity. The label is distributed in high-end boutiques and luxury department stores worldwide (USA, Europe, The Middle East and Asia) including Harvey Nichols (UK, Dubai and Riyadh), Calypso (New York), Boutique 1 (United Emirates), and in her hometown David Jones, Camilla boutiques (Bondi, Mosman and Woollahra) and online at www.camilla.com.au
The colourful story of Camilla continues…

Describe yourself in 3 words: Passionate, hardworking and adventurous.

Your life motto? “Just do it”

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful?
I am not sure pursuing is the right word when it comes to describing the way my label was born- accidental is probably a little more accurate. My career ambitions were strongly focused down a more dramatic path and detoured when my colourful onstage costumes drew even stronger reviews than my acting.

How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream?
I’m a Piscean, so I am constantly thinking 24/7. I am bit of a workaholic, sometimes I wish I had some balance.

Describe how difficult the business really is?Business is always challenging when you are personally and passionately involved in what you are doing. Essentially I think commitment and determination will get you through the most difficult situations, you learn that it is never really as bad as you think it is!

The mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Jumping into the creation of my book “Women of the World” with no publishing experience or know how.

The best piece of advice you have been given to date?
Never pay manufacturers  upfront!

The piece of advice that you weren’t?
Not to pay manufacturers upfront; I tend to learn things the hard way!

In your mind, is formal training essential?
Definitely not, I have no formal design training. I have focused my creative drive into the creation of my prints by sourcing the best fabrics from around the world and work in conjunction with a great team. I find that the learning curve in the workplace may be steeper but you learn quickly and can put this into to practice immediately.

What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? Identify designers that you admire and approach them to gain work experience. This is a great way to help you decide whether this is the industry for you and at the same time gain valuable practical experience.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the mistakes of others can be great lessons for you to learn from and hopefully avoid yourself.

What kept you going when you felt like giving up?
Supportive family and friends and the belief that I was onto something!

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? I really believe that luck and being in the right place will only get you so far, determination and hard work will get you the rest of the way. Find your niche in the marketplace and get to know your customer, what they want and how they will feel wearing your garments will be key to long term success and job satisfaction.

Even Oprah likes a little Camilla in her life!

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