Sometimes, an answer to a question causes that many new questions, that you feel you will never comprehend the whole thing.
Trying to comprehend all the episodes in Camilla Wellton’s career made us feel a little like that; Chemistry, Earth Sciences and Mathematics as well as Arts and Philosophy are among the studies she attended.
Our wish to decode her career in a chronological way was illusory, but soon became irrelevant. All that mattered was to find out more about the even-tempered, fascinating woman behind it all.
A Friday night in an alley in Stockholm’s historic centre. The door we just knocked on says: Camilla Wellon. Prét-á-porter, Eco-couture, Made to Measure. She opens the door smiling and eating an apple, and welcomes us to her studio.
It looks like what a real studio should look like. Two employees are sewing in one corner of the room, the walls are full of sketches, press articles, photos of her current collection. Fabrics pile up on shelves, and dress form mannequins wear creations that would grant them lots of envy, if only they could walk around town in them.
We sit down, take an apple, too, and meet a designer whose career sounds like a really busy schedule.
Looking around your studio, it feels like you’re a designer with heart and soul. When did you find out about that yourself?
I simply started at some point. I just bought fabrics and sewed clothes out of them. It felt relaxing to me, especially when I went to school in Hawaii, that far away from home. When I was wearing my own creations, I felt more like myself. And it surprised me to find that people came to me and said they liked them…
What came next?
I went to school in Hawaii and Stockholm, volunteered at biological research stations in Ecuador for a summer and lived in Paris for one year. Before running my own company full time, I went to business school. During that time, I took a sabbatical to work as a pattern cutter with H&M, but quit after three months.
I couldn’t work as an employee behind a desk, even though the experience to be at H&M was amazing and I learned a lot, but my way of functioning and working is different to what is needed in a company like that. So I went back to school and graduted in 2009.
Out of everything you could have done, why did you decide on fashion and running you own company?
In 2006, a relationship I was in ended abrubtly and I really needed to make myself happy and rethink my life. I took the gamble: dropped the environment science program, decided on fashion, and I will never regret it.
Back to your designs. So people liked your creations – how did that turn into a company?
I continued, and soon stores wanted to stock my designs. I noticed that the feedback I got from the stores about what sold and what didn’t, affected my design process. I didn’t like that development and decided to create only for private customers for a while. My clothes were not mainly supposed to make money, but they’re my art, my solace. I needed to protect the roots of my creativity. Now I’m older and my trust in integrity is much better so I started selling in stores again.
What do you like about creating individual designs for private customers?
When we match well, the customer and me, we can create something that makes both of us extremely happy. Also, some customers help me develop new ideas. Often, they will come to me with a brief idea or a detail, and sometimes those are great approaches that I can take further.
Besides Made to Measure, your label also stands for Prét-á-porter. In how many shows have you presented your fashion yet?
I’m just thinking about my first show in 2001, it made me feel so grown-up! Since then, there have been about 20. In Iceland, St. Petersburg and in various locations around Stockholm. I haven’t only presented my collections in shows, but I also started and ran a fashion event for three years.
And what can you say about your “Eco Couture”?
Eco Couture is the part of my brand where I design unique creations, extremely limited editions in all ecological fabrics. I used to believe that eco-fabrics were expensive and/or ugly, but I found a cloth agent with a great catalogue so there are lots to choose from now. The most important thing for a fabric remains that it must look great. I will not use eco-fabrics just because they are eco-fabrics. But if I can do so without compromising the integrity of my design, of course I´ll choose an eco fabric over a standard one.
Your plans for the near future?
I want to grow, so my company must grow. I will continue to work for private customers, but will mainly create collections. For men, too – starting AW10. And I want to evolve; a lifelong project.