Featured Designer: Mae & Pearl

FK chats with Naomi Anderson from her Sydney based fashion label, Mae & Pearl

Can you tell the story about how Mae & Pearl began?
I had been in the industry for eight years, always toying with the idea of creating my own brand. I started selling at the markets, creating frocks for friends and printing and sewing wherever I could find a space to work. This fused with my knowledge in pattern making, draping, grading and design. Mae & Pearl was born. Its been a journey working on the brand, building strong foundations with production, website, photo shoots and the odd pop up store here and there. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be part of The Graduate in the Strand arcade for twelve months, which was a pivotal point in my awareness of customized service and product integrity.

What is your own background and what lead you into textiles?
I graduated from East Sydney Technical college (now known as Ultimo TAFE), where I completed a three-year Advanced Diploma Course. The teaches there and head teacher Nicholas Huxley where a fantastic mentor group and opened the door to the world of fashion for me. I never looked back. I majored in textiles in my third year and again had a brilliant printing mentor. We experimented with so many different techniques and print paste recipes, it really was so exciting to be learning. This lead me to the love of textiles and wanting to constantly experiment with new ideas and how to create the perfect textile print. I guess the cloth was really my canvas.

What do you love about working with fashion, and how has this evolved since you started?
My understanding of aesthetics vs. functionality is very important. This has grown and developed so much since starting out. My garments fit all shapes and sizes and can be easily accessorized with a belt for more of a fitted look. I also have introduced quirky basics that can be worn with the more heavily textural garments. It may be a simple Parisian black and white strip legging or a grey-marled cotton jersey long sleeve top that could be the perfect little layering piece.

Your prints are really impressive – where do you find inspiration?
The beauty of everyday life and objects really appeal to me. I find inspiration from so many different sources. The main source of my inspiration native Australian flora and fauna, the textile designer Sonia Delaunay, a French artist and textile designer in the 1900’s. Her use of colour and beautiful geometric repeat patterns inspire. I also draw upon architectural sketches and ideas from Louis Cahn. He was famous for his organic use of shape and space. Our own Australian outback is also a constant source of colour combinations for my prints. I traveled for 4 months around Australia in 2009 and this was definitely the start of my love for our land outside of suburbia. My great grandmother had a small collection of exquisite evening gowns and sun dresses. The prints are so ethereal and beading work magnificent. I often go back to these for inspiration and recreating artwork in Photoshop or illustrator.

What are your favorite places to go in the Northern Beaches (NSW) to get inspired?
Apart from my little studio nestles in the tree tops behind a stunning bush reserve that backs onto the pacific ocean, I have to say Avalon Pool or Bangally headland. The coastal walks around this area are full of colour and life. Even if all I have time for is a quick splash at the beach then a coffee with sandy feet after, it is heaven and such a magic way to start the day.

What exciting things do you have planned for Mae & Pearl in 2012?
I am focusing on creating more relationships with retailers with the goal to be stocked in more hand picked boutiques. This for me and the business means a great deal as it enables me to step up the production quantity, which is all made in Australia. I am also working on getting the accreditation required to use ‘Meet your Maker’’ an Australia Fashion initiative just recently launched. It would be fantastic to explore Melbourne FK Market and also gear up for some trade shows in 2013. I would also like to create some new fashion shoot projects with a great team of people. The ‘image’ is such a vital part of online and website presence. I think it’s important to always experiment and test new ideas in front of the camera that truly create the tapestry of your brand. The onscreen image is priceless in building your hand writing as a designer.


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