White Shirt Curse and a Cure

Last Friday I had a luncheon scheduled in SF with a friend in SOMA. I was a half hour early and sat at a sidewalk table catching up on my mail. I talked with handsome (and young) guy at the neighboring table. He asked what I did. "A fashion designer!" and gave details after being asked. Then he asked, "do your designs come with or without the coffee stain?"

Looking down, I saw the stain across the front of my white layered top. After I regained my composure, I walked to the restroom and flipped my top around. Because it was cut on the bias, it will stretch to fit even if put on backwards! I just wore my jacket across my shoulders and no one else knew. I minded my own business after that. 

Have a look at the shirt. It will keep you out of trouble too. 



Tanna Frederick wears Camilla at the LA Opening of Jaglom's The M Word

"The M Word" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

What does our clothing say about ourselves?

Carolyn Zinko, SF Chronicle talks about the changes in Silicon Valley over the past few decades. I can testify that power suits were the standard. I loved wearing Chanel myself, because no one even recognized them in those days. Still, for this month's article  in the San Francisco Chronicle by Zinko, some Silicon Valley women didn't want to be quoted talking about clothes. Another said do your job and it would not matter what you wear.

Are we seriously talking like this? Seems like it does matter what we wear. It does mean a lot to our selves and to others. Suppose we look at it another way. Suppose we ask ourselves seriously -  what are we preparing for on the inside? Does our clothing truly match where we think we are and where we want to go? If the answer is yes, then I'd want to talk a lot about it. Talking about my destination will get me there, because I believe I'll be convincing.

Thanks Carolyn Zinko. Here is her article in SF GATE  http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Women-are-hacking-the-tech-dress-code-5411791.php


  • Please join us at one or more of these events.
  • VIsualize Success:  Giving You the Inspiration and Tools to get You Where You Want to Be.

-   April 24, 7 pm - 9 pm Deborah's Palm;  555 Lytton ave http://www.eventbrite.com/e/visualize-success-getting-where-you-want-to-go-tickets-11310005531?aff=efbbt

- April 30 University Club

- May 1 Connect Work Thrive Conference http://connectworkthrive.com/

  • Trunk Shows: 

May 21 WSDM Conference; Stanford, Ca

June 5 Close the Gap Fashion show.

June 13 - 15; 11 am to 7 pm each day. @ the store 440 Brannan, San Francisco

VS logo

Yes, You Are Invited to Our Trunk Show!

Head on over to the Four Seasons Silicon Valley for our upcoming trunk show on 2/8/14. Here is our invitation: 4S 2-8 TS

Images from Our Fall 2011 Fashion Show Luncheon 10-19-11 at Four Seasons Hotel

On October 29, we held a luncheon fashion show at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley. This event raised funds for Womens Health Stanford. It was lots of fun seeing girlfriends together enjoying themselves. Here are some of my favorite images. Thank you Jessica at Jessica Shirley-Donnelly for such good photos.


Alanna enjoying Katie's walk.Cage Top and Skirt. Meg Waite Clayton's The Four Ms Bradwells.

Fall02 Fall03

Moving Forward

November is almost here and so many changes are underway.   We’ve signed an agreement with a Showroom, Absolute Element. AE will take over our sales to other retailers, leaving us time to focus on design and the occasional trunk shows for our favorite clients. AE is a beautiful space on a great street in SoHo, NY. We are very excited about this change in our business. Along with their selling connections, AE will help us focus our design and pricing to present a cohesive package. Tightening-up is another phrase meaning “moving forward!” In October, we held two fashion events at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley to benefit Women’s Health Stanford. The first event was a dinner featuring our Identity Collection. We showed two models. Victoria, a young professional model wore our runway looks. Katie, our “best” client, wore real-life applications of the Identity looks. We took the cages and coordinated them with other garments from our fall and resort collections. In essence, she showed how to take the runway look and wear it in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Our second event was luncheon showing our Fall 2011 looks. Featuring the same two models, we paired them wearing identical pieces from our collection, but they were styled quite differently. 15 looks later, and our collection looked quite versatile. We continue our partnership with the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley. Early in November, the Quattro hostesses will be wearing our fall looks. Our front lobby display will feature new colors. Thank you Nicole, Tracy, Quattro, and Spa teams for your continued support. We so enjoy working with you.

Necessary but not Sufficient

Non Profits need leadership, commitment, and financing. I’ve made the commitment to donate part of the receipts of every sale to Women’s Health at Stanford for many reasons that you can read in earlier posts. Part of the reason is I believe in the need for research in Women’s Health, another part is I believe in the Director Lynn Westphal MD. This morning is a good example. I picked up the San Francisco Chronicle and saw a front page article (A-1) entitled “Chemo has more impact on fertility than thought,” by Erin Allday.  Turning the page to read more, I see this quote, “Especially young patients who are otherwise healthy, many of them have very good life expectancy after treatment, and they want to be able to think past their cancer,” said Dr. Lynn Westphal, a reproductive endocrinologist at Stanford. “For many patients, (fertility) is a key quality of life issue.” Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/11/BAGC1KUJGT.DTL#ixzz1Xo8SpHUp

My thoughts went right to my daughter and What If?. As a Mom, I would want her to read the information in this article before making a medical decision. Go ahead, read the article yourself. Thank you SF Chron and Ms Allday!

Paris Part 2

Only a few days have passed, yet I am feeling at home here. Yesterday my niece and I walked into Celine and ah! beauty filled the room. While researching the history of Celine,  I came across a quote from the original designer “The woman who travels can take lightweight things in one suitcase and remain neat and impeccable.” This sounds like our own Camilla Olson label. Perfect wardrobe that all mixes and matches, yet folds to make incredibly small volume. Give us a try!

Paris Part 1

Living some else’s life can be exhausting … ah Paris, so much to do, see, eat, and wear. Today for example, I ran over to the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Yves Bergé Foundation. Then rode the Metro up to Sacré Coeur for a visit that included climbing 300 stairs to the dome and then down into the crypt. Metro took me to Montparnasse for the Madame Grés exhibit (swoon), and then back to the hotel. It is good to own a camera to document this visit. But I didn’t tell you about that yet. I’ve been working on a little photo story that will be fun to publish when it is put together. A little surprise for us. Here’s one secret that i can share with you. Through a series of circumstances we found ourselves overlapping a visit to Paris with the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Good fortune, and friends, enabled us to give a Camilla Olson scarf to the Secretary. Of course there are all sorts of hoops to jump over, but they were jumped, mad dashes were run, and feet were sore. Hopefully, we’ll see a Getty photo of the peacock scarf brightening up one of her own looks. Let me see if I can remember some of the other things l’ve been doing here. The first thing we did was to go to the Louvre to see the highly regarded Ralph Lauren car collection. Suzy Menkes wrote, for the NYT, that his cars are primarily inspiration for his accessories. Agreed. We’ve had several walks along the Seine and rue St Honoré, a visit to the Notre Dame, the Champs Elysees, and views of the Tour Eiffel. Yesterday I peeked into Didier Ludot to check out the current collection of original designs by the great designers of the last century. My niece and her new husband have moved to Paris and we’ve enjoyed many wonderful moments with them. One of the best was a dinner party at their home and a walk to The Trocadero. This circle has special importance because the Musee du Homme was the location of the Akris show I saw last fall. What a fun day!

A Good Client

One of our favorite clients sent this email this morning …”I was at the Oscar de la Renta show at Neiman’s a few days ago. I had a long talk with … (a sales associate) about how much I adore the classic “Grace Kelly” look. I told her I was passing on Oscar because Camilla Olson is now making my dresses. We looked through your web site together. She had already read about you and thinks your clothes are gorgeous.” Made my day. Let us make your day too.


Tuesday’s arrival was a bit hectic. At first I was reminded of Las Vegas only without ships shooting canonballs. Later it seemed a bit more like Palm Beach. Wednesday was calmer. We started the day with a hike up to the old castle dating to the late 10th century. Loved the small museum chock full of textile ideas. In Milan and Cannes, I searched for clues on textile sources. I was set to visit a couple places near Milan, but a call ahead by our concierge found they had shut down. “the Crises” was the reason. Tragic. Wednesday afternoon I visited the shop of couturier Claude Bonucci hoping to get a read. Too many shops are closing because of the expansion of Asian sources. They expressed disappointment because even they were having trouble getting quality fabrics. I was so busy before leaving the US, I forgot to get a haircut. Took care of that too. I always wanted to have a French haircut, now I do. Wednesday night we had a fabulous fresh seafood dinner in the open air. One of the nicest dinners in recent memory. Thursday morning David and I walked to and around the same restaurant neighborhood. The ships are impressive and mostly owned by Saudis, Russians, and Americans including Paul Allen. Each ship has distinct design lines. I shot many photos and am now wondering how to express these ideas in fabric. In the afternoon, we shopped at the big designer stores and found some interest in our Camilla label.


Milan was great. We took some time to visit Museum 900 and loved the contemporary collection. Took many notes on color and textile designs. Food was good in Milan, coffee better, and style- outside the shops not that impressive- inside, terrific. We stayed in the middle of the fashion district and spent much of our time seriously examining designs, finishes, fabrications, and prices. After each visit to a new spot, I pulled out my notebook and scribed key words or sketches on ideas. Can’t wait to get back to the studio to implement them. While in Valentino, we chatted with our sales person who was the buyer for this boutique. She loved my own design of a sheer tee and commented on the bellamissimo print and fit. It didn’t take much for me to take out my look books to share. Again Bellamissima! Not believing it, I asked Mark later – do you think she meant it? Clearly a fun moment.

Another View

Anne Firth Murray gave the Key Note talk at Women’s Health at Stanford’s annual symposium earlier this month. She laid out sad truths about being conceived a female, as seen through each phase of her life. Briefly, some of these points are highlighted below. Birth. Girls are disproportionately subjected to selective abortion and infanticide. Childhood. Girls are given unequal access to education and proportionally more exposed to child abuse and child labor. Up to two million girls are facing the possibility of genital mutilation. Adolescence. More than likely most girls are married or have been pregnant by time they are 18. Girls 12-19 are the fastest growing population with exposure to AIDS. Girls are 4-7 times more vulnerable and likely to devolve into full-blown AIDS. Adulthood. As girls grow into womanhood, more surprises unfold. 350,000 to 400,000 woman die from preventable aspects of childbirth. Women are denied control of their reproductive rights. One in three women are subjected to domestic abuse. Woman are dragged into conflict and refugee violence as a result of war. Surprisingly, twice as many women die from natural disasters as women stay behind to find and save the children, thus are more likely to die. In the workplace women are paid less, subjected to trafficking, and have less access to money. Aging women population are often left alone and in poverty. Is there any wonder why we’re supporting women’s health?

Turning Point

It was a turning point attending the Woman’s Health at Stanford annual symposium last week. Let me explain. All of my earlier companies were based on wanting to get some relief in the form of better therapeutics or procedures to patients. More often than not I was focused on helping women. Alas I was weary being on the greed side of the equation. Some of you may know that was why I choose not to do another medical start-up. Thus beginning my years as volunteer and return-to-school graduate student. Zoom to the present – how can a socially sensitive person be satisfied in fashion? My dear friends encouraged me to consider that design can be thought of as aligned with the Creator. I had moments of comfort with this, but designing beautiful things costs a lot to make and sell. Darn, I was back on that greedy side. At the WH@S symposium I heard Anne Firth Murray talking about the sad truth of being born a woman. (perhaps I will paraphrase her talk later). So moved, I decided that we can help women by donating to Woman’s Health efforts. At least some portion of every sale will go to WH@S. What a thrill to know that we are working for the betterment of women’s health! We design to reflect the confidence, intelligence and femininity of women. These two pillars of strategy give us a greater feeling of purpose. Now we want to grow to give more to WH@S!

Trunk Show 4/27

PLEASE JOIN ECO CITIZEN + CAMILLA OLSON FOR A SPRING ’11 TRUNK SHOW WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27TH, 2011 5-9p. ECO CITIZEN BOUTIQUE 2255 POLK ST. SAN FRANCISCO, CA. 94109 RSVP: joslin@ecocitizenonline.com Featuring S/S ’11 Couture and Ready to Wear Collections, including laser cut sheathes, hand printed silks and classic silhouettes. *Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served 10% of the sales from this event will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.

Preparing for the event

It’s been a very busy two weeks.  My good friends Jungah and Holly threw themselves into the challenge.  The three of us had worked on a semester long project with two other friends and struck a good balance of the yin and yang. We were a wonderfully creative team trying to push the envelope. This time the vision was established and execution was the name of the game. Of course, my designer friends we able to leave their imprint as well. After many long days, and re-cutting fabric at midnight the day before departure, we got four finished looks carefully packed in a suitcase and delivered to Betsy’s home. I have to admit that after near daily fittings with Betsy it was sad to have our last meeting to hem the skirts, and tears came as I drove the suitcase to her home. Currently, new fabric is in the printing process, as we prepare for a photo-shoot this Friday. We have orders to fill. And our home is getting set up for some friends to enjoy the Red Carpet in 2 hours time. Good luck James. Break a leg, Betsy.  Drive safely all.

The Oscar Email

Sunday afternoon I was working on our new separates line. We’ve scheduled a photo shoot for next week and I need to get these designed and samples made. So much to do, so little time. I check email … Betsy Franco emails me! You know, James’ mom. She wants to know -  Can I dress her? Did you hear me scream? I dropped everything and invited her to my studio. Within the hour Betsy was here and trying on clothes. The first dress fit her pretty well and she loved it. The color looks fabulous on her and the design is flattering. We’re making a few changes to make it appropriate for the red carpet and added a complementary scarf. She will be a beacon. We’ve had a few fittings and discovered that there are a couple related events that she needs to be dressed for. Fortunately she likes our separates and the colors and prints are fabulous on her. It is so much fun dressing an enthusiastic client, and it is satisfying to dress someone who can wear color so well.

From There to Here

I took my daughter to an open house at a local art and fashion school, the Academy of Art University. While she wasn’t convinced fashion was in her future,  I enrolled in the MFA program in fashion and textile design. Heaven had found me. I learned to design and sew everything that I dreamed. Along the way, my friends were surprised and encouraging. Nearly everyone said “great, please design for us.” These comments came from women who were leaders, strong women who have accomplished many goals. Without the media telling us, each of us had the same problem – clothes today are designed for an idealized body, exposing too much skin, and immature styling. Each of us had found that the only places to shop were high-end designers and paying exorbitant prices for basic clothing or shapeless clothing. I created Camilla Olson, the label, to dress women who want to be themselves, speak their truth, and look great while doing so. We offer a made-to-measure designer line, ready-to-wear day to dinner clothing and accessories. Who are “we?”  about a year ago a friend, Debbie, and I began talking about possibility of a new label. Debbie is a great sounding board who excels at keeping projects on time and on focus. Sherry is a marketing genius who knows intricacies of fashion from a consumer perspective. Jungah is a former classmate, carpool mate, and collaborator. We also have an expanding group of advisors including Adrienne, Simon, Michael, Ian, Gonbee, Derek, Mary, and Christina who bring brilliance and guidance to our path.  

Welcome to my Blog!

“Fabric/Textiles –  So beautiful. Like a magnet to my hands. Clothes –  Serve a function. Style –  I didn’t get that gene. Fashion – What is it?”

These phrases sum up how I felt about my wardrobe. I have a friend, Mary, who really understands all things fashion and style. For a period of time I used to shop with her every week in San Francisco. Our favorite place was Chanel. [I can talk more about this later.] We would admire all things Coco and Karl. After a while my daughter, Cate, urged me to teach her to sew. She is a natural in the world of style and fashion. In my down time I started teaching myself to sew with more refined techniques. My goal was to make a duplicate “Chanel” jacket. I was always disappointed in my design and results. I couldn’t find that place inside and bring it out and into reality. I found that my croquis (illustration image) always showed a strong woman.









This attitude carried into my final collection that was shown at Lincoln Center during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NY.