The 19th century’s aesthetes would have clamoured for Easton Pearson. The Brisbane label’s archives swell with the kind of decadent detailing that drove Dorian Gray and Jean des Esseintes mad. Hand-woven fabrics are from India, Japan and Korea. Artisanal flourishes include motifs borrowed from Polynesian tapa, silver marriage braids and complex needlework. Each item is a collector’s piece; a rich salmagundi of cultural references and nods to muses.
The end of 2014 marked the brand’s 25th anniversary, an eternity in Australian fashion. To celebrate, we ask founders Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton to select a favourite piece. Because they both wear Easton Pearson almost exclusively, it proved a difficult request.
Dress, Spring/Summer 2006
“One of the reasons I love this is because the collection was shown at an installation in Paris. It was at a beautiful hotel near the Champs-Élysées. We had 36 mannequins, three live models and friends from New York who had come to play music. It was one of those very special moments. It felt very grown up …
[This is] hand-woven silk with a really beautiful lustre and the appliqué is cotton and stones, with folded cotton tape. Everything comes from India but the effect is definitely not one of ‘ethnic clothing’. These buttons were made for us by the Patwa in India … They sit on little stools by the side of the road and have the thread around their toe … “We travel to India for work, and we really work when we’re there! These days, we don't get much chance to go around and see everything, but just in our daily business we experience so much. It’s like a film; you often have to pinch yourself.”
Smock top, Spring/Summer 2002
“For this we were considering the effect that colonial culture had on Africa – and the effect African culture had on colonial dress. The umbrella represents the colonial bureaucrats walking in the sun; the skirt represents [certain] patterns. This whole collection was a comment on that cultural melding. We had very detailed Victorian blouses, worn with big skirts and suede pants, cut and fringed with bells. All of this is hand-executed and embroidered. Our customers are women who are interested in art and design – be it industrial, architecture, clothing – and more interested in defining their own style over following fashions.”