Representing the creative future

The transformative designs of RCA grad Camilla Damkjaer

Lime greens and lemon yellows – Camilla talks about her colourful approach to design.

Just like King Midas, MA Womenswear graduate Camilla Damkjaer has got the magic touch. Her brightly-hued collection is self transformative. Giving agency back to the body, she lets the garments mould and shape itself in accordance to the wearer – a noble feat in design and personalisation.

Congratulations were in order, especially when one has secured a spot straight out of school at Stella McCartney. Camilla Damkjaer couldn’t stop beaming. “I always admired the way Stella McCartney works, she’s making an effort to be responsible which is the most important thing for me regarding working for her.” After all, it’s not often you get to find a company whose values are aligned with your own, especially one that has been heralded by the masses for its ethical production.

Working with such a weighty task ahead, she broke down her idea into smaller working disciplines. The approach was to create a method that could be used interminably whilst simultaneously remaining unique to the wearer. So what makes a garment unique? Was it through incorporating elements of personalisation, a patch here and an interchangeable strap there? In Camilla’s case, it’s far from added gimmicks; her focus lies instead on the wearer’s agency. By stumbling across an unassuming yet ubiquitous clothing staple during her research, Camilla noticed that jeans were able to do just that, capture the wearer’s unique shape to give agency to the body. But denim took too long to mould, the process needed to be sped up.

By experimenting with different materials in 3D on her body and on others bodies, she was able to find a material that could do that instantaneously yet finding the balance between comfort and concept proved challenging. Not only was finding the right balance crucial, Camilla had also limited herself to using just four materials. “I wanted to keep it quite simple and keep it down to four different materials since I do so much fabric manipulation with it afterwards, I think it creates an interesting contrast to keep it at a minimum but still make it look very complex,” she notes. After a period of trial and error, Camilla’s band of four included nylon, canvas, aluminium foil and metal wiring. The latter two were able to immediately capture the shape of the wearer leaving traces of them in the garment.

It’s as much of a science as an art. What makes Camilla unique is her ability to relinquish complete control; instead she lets the clothes do the talking. Dressing wearers in her pieces, she then prompts these bodies to move, sit, and gesticulate. That’s when the magic happens. Twisting, curving and moulding, the aluminium and metal wiring begins to set the precedence of the garments shape. “This is when something interesting happens, I have no idea what the end result will be,” she smiles. To capture the final product, print was incorporated to emphasise the wearer’s agency. By heat-pressing both vinyl and canvas on top of the already shaped garment, a shadow print of the body’s movements were mapped out. And just like the body informing the trousers, the trousers thus informs the print.

It’s all cyclical. By tying together abstraction to a methodical process, Camilla was able to do the unimaginable, making each piece authentically unique to the wearer. The clothes come to life, through movement and printing methods, Camilla is able to guide the wearer to the clothes and the clothes on to the wearer.