There is a funny disconnect in learning that sister-and-brother duo Camilla Freeman Topper and Marc Freeman used Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud as a starting point for their new Camilla and Marc collection. Their clothes have none of Bacon’s bilious color, and even less of the unsettled abstraction conveyed in the famous painting, which Christie’s sold for $ 142.4 million last year. In the end, it was the geometric frame enclosing Freud on the triptych that inspired the Australian designers, who went so far as to have a similar piece made for their video and lookbook.
While its sharp linearity appealed to the designers, they ended up with a more feminine balance thanks to floaty organza, a strong diamond jacquard, and soft georgette, all in a palette of mostly black, red, and white. Their checkered lace was the winning material; the openwork grid was pretty and assertive in equal measure. It also conveyed the “game board” theme they used as an additional frame of reference to convey “power and confidence.” It’s in these instances that you wonder whether ideas detract from execution. And yet the designers maintained their figure-flattering silhouettes—waist-emphasizing, knee-grazing, décolletage-baring—and even managed to introduce a neoprene duffle coat and flawless silk satin pant that showed their ability to think forward and finesse. Get past the Bacon comparisons and the other influences and you’re left with a strong, wearable collection that can hold its own.