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Camilla Freeman-Topper On the Women Who Shaped Her

“Watching mum battle ovarian cancer inspired me to fight for what’s right”

The co-founder of Camilla and Marc on those who’ve inspired her to live with strength, substance and style.


My mum was very present. She was an amazing listener, deeply nurturing and thoughtful. Kindness and love emanated from her. She was a very strong advocate for all women in her life and she never had a horrible thing to say about anyone. I remember sitting at the dining table every night and if there was anything to be said about anyone, it would always be kindness. There was never anything but good to come out of that.

Watching Mum battle ovarian cancer with enduring tenacity inspired me to fight for what’s right. She knew she was going to pass, but she was so strong till the very, very end; she just wouldn’t give up. Her strength in the face of adversity has left a really huge mark on me; it’s where I draw a lot of power from every day.

Mum would never leave another person behind, and that’s why we’re doing the Ovaries. Talk About Them campaign. It took both me and [my brother and business partner] Marc a long time to be able to talk about losing Mum and her illness. But now we want to raise awareness because there’s so little known about ovarian cancer. We’ve had thousands of people say to us, “I didn’t know anything about this.” We were always going to do it, but the memory of Mum really drives us to continually push the campaign forward.

(Credit: Image: Isaac Brown)

Associate Professor CAROLINE FORD

Two years ago, I met Dr Caroline Ford at the UNSW offices where she works as a cancer researcher. In that first meeting I was totally struck by her. She has this really amazing presence and I instantly felt her integrity aligned with ours. She has unwavering dedication.

Through her work leading the Gynaecological Cancer Research Group, she’s taking on a huge challenge. Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers and there are no warning signs. There are very few symptoms and most women are diagnosed at stage three or four, when it’s too late. So, someone who is prepared to head up that department – I hail her.

Before meeting Caroline, I always thought of mentors as being much, much older. But I really look up to her as a mentor because she’s so determined; she puts her money where her mouth is, and she walks her talk.


I was drawn to the work of late magazine editor Liz Tilberis when I was in Year 11 or 12. I thought her work with Fabien Baron was incredible, as well as her collaborations with Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh. Under her leadership as editor-in-chief, US Harper’s Bazaar was a force to be reckoned with.

Then, when I was studying fashion design a couple of years later, I was looking through some old copies and came across the 1992 September issue with Linda Evangelista on the cover. I was so in awe of it that I stuck it on my diary. It was one of the most famous covers Liz did. It only had a single coverline: Enter the Era of Elegance. It was so strong, powerful, and it embodied fearlessness. Three years later, when I was designing my graduating collections, that quote really guided me and I continue to be inspired by her trailblazing spirit.

‘Ovaries. Talk About Them’ limited-edition T-shirts and jumpers are now available at CAMILLA AND MARC boutiques and online at CAMILLA AND MARC will also be holding a customer event at their Bondi Junction Westfield store on Saturday April 17 between 10-12pm, where Founders Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman will personally meet and greet supporters. An exclusive ‘Ovaries. Talk About Them’ tote bag will be included with every purchase. This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of marie claire. 

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