“When I graduated from my fine-art degree, I experimented with exhibiting work,” Charlotte Campbell says. “However, I always felt something was missing.”
What was missing, it seems, was fabric. Glancing through the lookbook of her recently launched label, Campbell Charlotte, the impression is one of a creative person who has finally found her medium. A canvas people can use all the time.
Campbell makes quiet clothes. There are no statement pieces; her label takes a more subtle approach – clothes you could wear any day and keep for a lifetime. This was a conscious choice, just like her use of natural fibres and inks. Like many, she is out to create an alternative to the growing trend for fast and disposable fashion.
Originally hailing from Noosa, Campbell's work is of two worlds. There's a Sunshine Coast breeziness in the fabric, the summery patterns. Yet her clothes also have a minimalism, an ease for layering, that's entirely of her adopted home – Melbourne.
Campbell may now be firmly in the world of fashion, but still sounds very much like an artist when discussing her work. “The summer collection takes influence from the way that linen crushes in response to our actions and environment,” she explains. “Rather than fight the creased appearance of worn-in linen, the print story aims to embrace the remaining traces of experience.”
The idea behind this design intention is that our clothes don't need to be just a snapshot of who we thought we were at a moment in time. They can age with us, be shaped by living as much as we are.
In her Melbourne studio, the young designer has sewn every piece of her new summer collection herself. “It is hard work,” she admits. “But it also allows me to be in control of my entire production process, which at the moment is very important to me.”
This process begins with textile design, to which Campbell applies most on her fine-art background. There's a painterly nature to many of her fabric designs; at times she also plays with collage and digital design. Most of her fabrics are printed in Melbourne.
“It is so great to be living and working in Melbourne, a city surrounded by so many local labels and creatives,” she says. “We are also very fortunate that here we have such a large community of consumers who would rather buy ethically than fill their wardrobe with disposable fashion.”