The Designer Interview: Macayla Chapman and Natalie Knoll from Bird & Knoll
Australian resort wear label Bird & Knoll launched in 2014 as a luxury accessories brand, selling silk, cashmere and cotton scarves that featured Natalie Knoll’s photographs from her extensive travels. Knoll and fellow co-founder Macayla Chapman soon learned that the success they had found with their refined edit of scarf designs outgrew itself. Further, the duo desired further artistic expression, fuelled by their shared passion for travel, fashion, and design.
In 2016, the label unveiled its first resort wear collection.
Regardless of the season, Knoll and Chapman’s designs envisage the quintessential elements of the beach or a tropical resort. Bird & Knoll’s signature look–feminine, light, and effortless–is a welcome repose from the hectic world we live in. Each season, during the initial design process, there is a feeling that Chapman and Knoll hope to evoke a sense of escapism. They communicate a sense of whimsy and delight through their designs–imagining their customer in far-away locations like Puglia or Capri.
Through Bird & Knoll’s vision, the weather is always sunny and the sky is always blue. However, although physically light against the skin, the label’s collections are not devoid of deeper implications. There is a distinct understanding of how women want to feel when they dress, coupled with a utilitarian approach to the functionality of each style. The collections take you from beachside to evening events; effortlessly wearable and endlessly thoughtful in their intention.
Bird & Knoll use the highest quality silks and cottons, ensuring each piece has a timeless appeal and endless versatility.
In conversation with The Forme, Knoll and Chapman discuss their inspiration for the newest Resort 2022 collection, and share insights into what is next for the young Australian label.
Where did the idea to transition from luxury scarves to resort wear come from? Did the inspiration come from a response to a specific moment in time, life experience or thought?
NK: As the scarves grew in popularity and we began to know and understand our Bird and Knoll customer more, we recognised that there was a beautiful synergy between having a B&K scarf and then augmenting that experience with an outfit and vice versa.
How would you describe the woman you design for, and how has she evolved with the brand?
NK: The Bird and Knoll woman is the epitome of female elegance, confidence and freedom. She is a modern woman … with some depth and edge to her style. She is interested in fashion, art, travel and home decor She has a strong romantic sensibility and enjoys getting dressed up in floaty and feminine pieces. She’s open to the new and she’s not afraid of colour or making a statement. When wearing her Bird and Knoll, she feels liberated and alluring all at once… her Bird and Knoll brings alive her chic day-to-day wardrobe and multi-tasks as both the statement pieces and essentials to her wardrobe.
Bird & Knoll is represented as “a sensory and tactile realisation of our inspirations and adventures.” What does this vision mean to you and how is it reflected in your designs?
MC: When I am designing a silhouette or the details for one of our styles or deciding on the colour palette for our collections, I am often thinking of how to capture that feeling of the sun on my arms when I was in Tulum, Mexico, or how to translate the colour of the bougainvillea in an alleyway in Greece. I will even go as far back as childhood memories of lying on a picnic blanket watching candyfloss clouds floating by in a picture perfect blue summer sky. It’s all about bringing to life that vacation feeling and infusing it into our everyday wardrobe.
Looking across the Resort 2022 collection, how do you want people to feel when they wear pieces from Bird & Knoll?
NK: I can only hope that they feel the way that I do when I put on one of our pieces – Empowered but feminine. There is something about how the fullness of our silhouettes in our soft fabrications move around when I am walking. I sometimes catch a glimpse of a magnificent skirt billowing around me as I am dashing to a meeting and I think “Wow – that looks special!”
How would you recount your process for creating the Resort 2022 mood board?
MC: Bird and Knoll’s Resort 23 collection is all about a return to romantic holiday wardrobes. Fantasies of summer getaways that could actually happen were looming large on my moodboard! While this was designed under lockdown conditions, we were seeing the promise of travel starting to make its way back and the thought of beachside vacations, languid lunches and exploring sleepy towns and seaside villages permeated decisions around colour, shapes and details.
What would you style yourselves in from the Resort collection?
NK: I always turn to the Frieda in a new colourway every season. Perfect for throwing on over a swimsuit with a cute pair of sandals. Beach chic but super comfortable.
MC: I am having a love affair with Penelope. The cut is super-flattering and so easy to transition from day to night with a change of shoes.
What pieces would you select for a dream summer capsule wardrobe?
MC: Magnolia for sure and for a bit of evening glam, the Parker.
NK: Frieda and Kahlo – the tumbled cotton is so soft…and for the perfect sundress, the Penelope.
Finally, what’s next for Bird & Knoll?
NK: We do think that swimwear is a natural next step but it is important for us that we find the right quality sustainable fabric for this that will support our designs.