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Today, we introduce Dougal, a charming line of children’s and women’s wear, art and home textiles that celebrates all things Australian.

This sweet local label is the result of a collaboration between fashion designer Arabella Ramsay, and her father, illustrator Dougal Ramsay.

From the Jan Jac abode she shares with her husband, Chris Wilson, and daughters, Marlowe and Lottie, Arabella spoke with Fiona Killackey about working with her family, memories of lost-long illustrations, and why she’s forever inspired by Australia’s native beauty. 

24th October, 2016
Fiona Killackey
Monday 24th October 2016

With collections entitled Hello Cocky, Veg Out and G’day Love, Dougal is a change in pace from the fashion label Arabella Wilson (previously Ramsay) is best known for. Reflecting her love of nature – ignited by her upbringing on a sheep farm – Arabella has created an accessible and relaxed range for children and parents. ‘The unfussy leisurewear and silhouettes are perfect for yoga, farmers markets, school drop-offs and just hanging out.’ says Arabella. ‘We’re transforming iconic Aussie symbols into cheeky prints. There’s no digital imagery or heavy styling, just true blue pencil on print.’

Responsible for those cheeky prints is Arabella’s father, Dougal Ramsay, an Australian artist known for illustrations of flora, animals and life on the land. ‘Living between the bush and the beach has imparted a deep love of nature for both Dad and I,’ starts Arabella, ‘We sit down over a cuppa and chat about what themes will work, and then I give Dad a brief to work to. I’m always in awe of what Dad comes back with… He works at such speed and produces amazing sketches and finished artworks.’

Adoration of her father’s talents is something Arabella has felt since childhood. ‘I remember a drawing I made for Kyneton Primary School fete. I spent so much time and I loved it – it was of a teacher in a classroom – and I struggled drawing his hands so dad drew them for me. It ended up coming first place – maybe it was the teacher’s hands that got me over the line! This earliest memory is one of my faves… If only I still had the drawing.’

For now, Arabella is focused on slowly growing Dougal, without sacrificing the lifestyle she has created for her family. ‘I love the idea of promoting the rural country life Australia has to offer, so I’d love to collaborate with RM Williams, Ugg Australia or Drizabone… I have a lot of ideas for where I want the brand to go, but at this stage it’s really a day-by-day process, as I have two young children and I want to maintain the balance between work and family… I’d love a brand focusing solely on the beauty of our land and our wildlife, that can be bought in airports so we don’t have to succumb to tacky Aussie trinkets. We can buy something with a bit more style.’

Dougal is available to order online. A Dougal men’s range will be coming soon!

Dougal Ramsay in his studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

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