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on location easton pearson — QLD, australia

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Text Margie Fraser

Production Andrea Millar

Photography Jared Fowler

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Easton Easton Pearson: Brisbane calling For revered Australian fashion design duo, Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton, a busy schedule means airports and international fashion shows are commonplace. But it’s in Brisbane that the two women work, live and play. Here Margie Fraser learns what these two locals find so captivating about their home town. Donning an Easton Pearson garment is as much about the experience as the look. More, perhaps. The designs are born of a process of careful attention to hand-cutting, stitching and embroidering, informed by historical understanding and artful originality. The finest of details in buttoning, clippings and fastenings all pay homage to vintage forms and make for a delicate and graceful gesture of embrace. Art is often an inspirational source for fabric design, taken from friends’ works or favourite historical periods. Fabrics are ethically sourced, fibres are natural and organic. Despite their hectic schedule and peripatetic lifestyle, Pamela and Lydia seem to manage their empire with an unruffled grace and humility. It is not surprising that their favourite things are on the whole, not things at all, but experiences and rituals which enrich everyday life. In their hometown of Brisbane, the two find some joyous places for both mind and body.

A curvaceous teapot, hand-painted in St Petersburg and purchased in Paris, is a well-used and much-loved object in Pamela and Lydia’s private studio. The voluptuously bulbous piece has the capacity to water them throughout the day. “We drink gallons of tea,” says Pamela. “We’re constantly boiling the kettle.” Their favourite brew, also retrieved during regular jaunts to Paris, is Thè des Mandarins, a white jasmine concoction. But it is the beautiful, Klimt-like patterns on the teapot’s surface that they rejoice in. Stylised horses and riders gallop around the belly of the pot, interspersed with decorative panels rendered in bright gold and crimson. “We love the figurative work,” says Lydia. “The gold is so gold, and there’s a 70’s look to the design.” For those in the know, Paladar Fumior Salon is a hole-in-the-wall bar for coffee drinkers and Cuban cigar smokers, if you’re that way inclined. Lydia and Pamela are not (inclined

to puff on cigars that is) but love the way the place evokes “a little Cuban world in the middle of West End”. The eccentrically decorated space sits on the corner of historic Fish Lane, in a precinct which bridges the tourist strip of South Bank and the state’s art institutions with the ethnically diverse and laid back suburb of West End. Art and eccentricity both find a home in Paladar’s décor, where the walls are festooned with postcards sent from South America by loyal clientele. Sofas, raw timbers and pot plants make the miniscule courtyard homely, while a rooftop terrace with bench seats and deck chairs gives views into laneway happenings. When the mood takes him, owner Filip Pilioras, who knows most his patron’s names, will break into a bit of Cuban jazz. Early morning walks around the city streets and riverside boardwalks reveal some surprising and rewarding vistas for the pair, who are conversant in Brisbane’s architectural

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on location easton pearson — QLD, australia

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...their favourite things are, on the whole, not things at all, but experiences and rituals which enrich everyday life.

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Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson in Brisbane, Queensland. 02

Hole-in-the-wall coffee and cigar bar, Paladar Fumior Salon. 03

The hand-painted teapot has travelled from Russia to Paris, and is now used daily in their Brisbane studio. 04

This view of St John’s Cathedral emerged after demolition of a high-rise building.

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habitus 08

on location easton pearson — QLD, australia

...city streets and riverside boardwalks reveal some surprising and rewarding vistas...

history. “There’s a fantastic view of St John’s Cathedral that’s recently appeared,” explains Pamela, whose quotidian strolls take her near the old stone church. “It’s like nothing else in Brisbane. A high-rise had blocked the view into the cathedral’s eastern end for years, but since that disappeared about 12 months ago you have this lovely image of it from the street below.” She would like to see a permanent park installed where the missing building was to retain the view. “There are so few long views left in the city,” she says, owing to the proliferation of highrise, the hilly topography and the haphazard street plans. The Cathedral has recently been restored and indeed completed after many years of existing without its western facade. Now, by virtue of a demolition, the less familiar “back” of the building can also be contemplated and enjoyed. “With a bit of forward thinking, this could become a real gathering place.” Several large Moreton Bay Fig trees in Davies Park, West End, provide Saturday market-goers with splendid deep shade. One of Lydia’s favourite experiences is to sit under the trees and look at the Brisbane River beyond. “It feels like a long way out of the city,” she comments, but of course West End is just a bridge walk over the river from the CBD. On market day a cellist often sits near the trees, clad in his pyjamas, playing on blithely. “I like the way it’s a very mixed market with a broad crosssection of people,” says Lydia. A chai stall puts out a few milk crates and cushions for patrons to sit on, and sets itself up with a couple of Bunsen burners. “It’s all quite feral, but very convivial.” The importance of large trees and the river loom large in the Easton Pearson duo’s estimation of their hometown. The distinctively “curly” nature of the Brisbane River, they note, affords village-like pockets, which nestle into its bends, each creating their own identities and points of reference. Catching the City Cats [the public catamaran ferries] up and down the river at night is a special treat which offers different

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Musicians under the Fig trees at the markets in Davies Park, West End.

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on location easton pearson — QLD, australia

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The Talking Circle at the State Library of Queensland. 07

Pieces from the Autum/Winter 2010 collection. 08

Story Bridge, crossing the Brisbane River, is a favourite landmark. perspectives of the city and the treasured Story Bridge. On foot, the river can be enjoyed via some amazing boardwalks. As for trees, the pair bemoan that not enough really major ones are being planted around the city. The Talking Circle at the State Library of Queensland is a captivating outdoor space designed to accommodate gatherings of indigenous peoples. Pamela and Lydia appreciate the way it offers “lots of vistas” and also small, enclosed areas isolated from exterior noise and distractions. Which is exactly how architects Donovan Hill intended the space to be, after painstaking consultation with local aboriginal custodians. Again, a beautiful Fig tree is a feature and a soaring roof lifts to the stars. A fire pit sits in the middle of a cluster of timber benches and a lookout deck suspends above a lawn dedicated to ceremonial dancing. 08

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Easton Pearson, eastonpearson.com

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