over50feeling40: Reinvention After 50: Camilla Olson, Biochemist to Fashion Designer
Fashion and Lifestyle Blog for women over 50 to help achieve strength, confidence, joy, inspiration, and, of course, head-turning personal style!

May 8, 2013

Reinvention After 50: Camilla Olson, Biochemist to Fashion Designer

Not many can transition from the world of a microbiologist to success as a fashion designer, but CAMILLA OLSON did this very thing at age 57.  She brings a scientific view to design and has used her forward thinking to develop a new way of creating fabulous textiles.  “Clothing must tell a story,” she says. “and address a woman’s needs and desires.”   
Camilla was willing to answer some specific questions for the over50feeling40 audience about her reinvention.  But, I also want to mention an interview she did with INSPIRARE because of this quote:
Inspirare Question: Who is your target?  Progressive modern women who need to take their clothing from day to night including baby boomers. They are a lost and forgotten generation that easily gets dismissed by some stores… (YES, CAMILLA!!)

Pam:  What was the main reason behind leaving the health care industry to pursue fashion?

Camilla: I felt like I reached the top of my game in that industry after 25 years. Going back to school was not something I was longing to do, but it happened. To encourage my daughter’s interests, I took her to the open house at the Academy of Art University to look into the fashion program. Surprisingly, she was not as interested as I was. At first I was excited to find a place where I could develop my sewing skills. Quickly I realized what I had committed myself to and was seduced by the idea of developing a label to dress my contemporaries.
Pam:  Do your think your age was a plus, a minus, or a non-factor while you were in the Academy of Art?

 Camilla: Let’s be honest, I was a fish out of water. I felt like all these kids had so much more talent. It was a club I didn’t belong to but I wanted membership. It was an amazing time of discovery for me, I had some brilliant teachers who really helped me focus my vision and refine my designs, a time of trial an error. I never stop learning now.

Pam: What surprises have you discovered about women 50+ and their fashion choices?

Camilla: First that there are not enough choices for women over 50 that are wearable and modern. I was disappointed at the response a few department stores had to my passion for dressing my generation. They were more interested in dressing women aged 35 years than dressing the baby-boomer. My line fits a wide range of women of all sizes, quite a few of my pieces have options for sleeves or no sleeves and you can pick your hem length. Let’s face it by 50 we know our assets.

Pam: Please explain as simply as possible how the iron transfer printing process(laying sheets of metal on to fine silk) works to create unique looks.

Camilla: During school one of my mentors was the former textile designer to Alexander McQueen, Simon Ungless. I worked closely with Simon where I developed the iron transfer imprinting process, which yields a soft and unique effect every time. It has a stunning elegant effect when applied to silk and I love the idea of using various shapes of metal to imprint upon the fabric. I have figured out a way to do this that is non-toxic and used kitchen-table ingredients.

Pam: What advice do you have for women who desire to leave their old lives behind and pursue their passions after middle age?

Camilla: Do it, there is no time like the present. Creativity is something that lives in all of us. It will get you out of your routine and give you a new adventure every day.

Camilla is truly an inspiration and tomorrow I will model a scarf she sent my way!

Have a wonderful Monday!


  1. Thank you so much for introducing Camilla Olson.
    Great interview, a very interesting and inspirational woman.
    I immediately checked out her website - her fabulous collection is a bit over my budget. However, I had a look at her sales and there are some great offers.

    Lady of Style
    now on Facebook

  2. Most interesting, dear Pam.

  3. Very inspiring. I agree there is definitely a lack of designers who have "us" in mind when they design. Let us support those few who are.

  4. Oh I love her style! This a great post Pam. Thanks for sharing Camilla's line with us.

  5. I love this story - that she changed her life dramatically at 57! (the age I am now). Great interview Pam, thanks for this.

  6. I'm thrilled to have found Camilla! She's an inspiration that it's never to fulfill your dreams. Awesome interview, Pam!

  7. What an inspirational post! She is uber chic!!!

  8. Hi Pam~What an inspiring piece. This designer has such sophisticated, artful design and she's creating it appropriate to the modern woman of our generation.
    I'll be keeping on eye out for more-and that chic scarf you will be wearing.
    Fun stuff!
    xx, Heather

  9. An inspiring lady...thank you for sharing this Pam...great interview too!
    Catherine xx

  10. Fabulous interview Pam... I do admire not only her talent but also her determination to forge this new career... and so successfully... xv

  11. This is truly inspiring. It's never too late to do what you love.


Thanks so much for joining in our conversation today! I appreciate your time and love hearing from you!