As humans, we’ve long held the desire to decorate our bodies. It is this exact ritual that marks the philosophy of Australian label Desert Designs, a 1980s favourite re-launched just last year. The brand’s first collection flew off the racks at Melbourne’s Fat and Sydney’s Poepke, and with the label’s second collection ‘Increase the Acid’ landing in stores next month, we have a feeling it will do the same.
Desert Designs’ story begins with that of the late Indigenous artist Jimmy Pike [Kurnti Kujarri] and rests on the bonds of a friendship between him and his prison art teacher Steve Culley. Having grown up in and around the waterholes of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia, Pike’s land, culture and its symbols blazed throughout his work. When he met Culley, he was introduced to contemporary mediums such as the fluoro colours of texta pens. The two then translated his drawings into textiles and Desert Designs was born.
While each piece of clothing Desert Designs produced was infused with meaning, Pike made sure that no sacred images were used.
With the recent proliferation of prints both on and off the catwalk, the time was ripe for co-creative directors Jedda-Daisy Culley (Steve’s daughter) and Caroline Sundt-Wels to re-envisage the label. Collaborating with Pike’s wife Pat Lowe each season, artworks from his digital archives are carefully selected, allowing the work to be lived in and loved all over again.
For summer, ‘Increase the Acid’ sees psychedelic colours pop in tribal prints, hot-wiring the wearer with energy, while the loose, athletic styles makes movement easy in the heady heat. Uniquely Australian in flavour, the clothes tell the story of our land, no matter where you live.
As Jedda-Daisy says of the label: “The reinterpretation is a homage to our friend Jimmy Pike – his art, his stories, his country. It speaks to a generation of dreamers, living in the cities and suburbs on the border of desert country.”