Outfit, women’s, Easton Pearson, Australia/India

Made by Bolinger, Donna-May in India, 2002.

Established in 1989 by Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, Easton Pearson is now one of Australia’s most successful fashion labels. From their Brisbane based studio the design duo create three collections annually which are sold through over 100 stores worldwide.

While they acknowledge current trends, their collections reflect an independent and experimental vision of dress drawing on broad and eclectic sources of inspiration ranging from their passion for vintage and traditional textiles and dres...


Outfit, womens, comprising top, skirt, sandals, belt and bandanna belt, cotton / raffia / leather, designed and made by Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton of Easton Pearson, sandals designed by Easton Pearson and made by Donna-May Bolinger, designed and made for Powerhouse Museum exhibition 'Sourcing the Muse', India / Australia, 2002

Women's outfit comprising embroidered and beaded cotton top, raffia and calico skirt, leather sandals, leather belt and bandanna belt.

Top: sleeveless loose fitting cream cotton top with centre front opening, square neckline and yoke, featuring fine machine stitched stripes in blue and red overlaid with bold hand tacked stripes and a zigzag border. Decorated with metal Katori sequins. Edges have been left raw and teased out by hand. The yolk has been lined with black silk and the centre front opening fastens with three metal hooks and eyes.

Skirt: ankle length A line skirt of cream cotton trimmed with raffia laid vertically strand by strand and machine stitched in place with three tiers of looped raffia at hipline. Hem bound with pink raffia over stitching. The skirt is lined with a cream calico underskirt and machine sewn. It fastens at the proper left side seam with a nylon zipper.

Belt: narrow brown leather belt that wraps several times around hip.

Bandanna: made from men's handkerchiefs sewn together and trimmed with bold tacking stitches. Worn tied around hip.

Sandals: Flat sandals with cotton binding.


Designed and made by Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton for the Powerhouse Museum's 'Sourcing the Muse' exhibition in 2002.

PROJECT OVERVIEW-Sourcing the Muse
Exhibition presented at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
12 April - 21 July 2002

The origins of the Sourcing the Muse exhibition lie in the Powerhouse Museum's rich dress and textile collection and the emergence in the mid 1990s of a new generation of Australian fashion designers whose original and distinct signature styles drew accolades both locally and internationally.

The exhibition showcased the Museum's extraordinary collection not through the curator's eyes but through the hearts, minds and vision of some of Australia's foremost fashion designers. In the process, we endeavoured to provide the Museum's audience with an insight to the often elusive and seemingly enigmatic world of creative process. Where do designers seek inspiration and what is the process that takes them from inspiration through design and manufacture to the creation of a new work?

Eight Australian fashion designers were invited to look through the Museum's textile and dress collection and select one or more items to use as a source of inspiration for a new work they would create.

The designers selected were:

Akira by Akira Isogawa
Easton Pearson by Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton
Gwendolynne by Gwendolynne Burkin
Michelle Jank
Nicola Finetti
S!X by Peter Boyd and Denise Sprynskyj
Tea Rose by Rosemary Armstrong
Vixen by Georgia Chapman and Maureen Sohn

These designers were selected because their work is marked by a knowledge of and passion for fashion and dress history. Their collections reflect their ability to source fashion and dress ideas from across time and cultures while reconsidering it in an original, often unconventional, and very contemporary manner. Rather than being trend-driven, their work lies outside the changing 'looks' of mainstream fashion; it has a timeless quality with each collection evolving from the last in an ongoing exploration of images, ideas and techniques.

Having the designers select and create the objects that appeared in the exhibition also highlighted the broader purpose of museum collections; they are not only a resource for curators' research and exhibitions but importantly function as a source of inspiration and information for designers, scholars, students and general researchers. In the words of the late Richard Martin, former curator at The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art 'one is aware that ours is no mere echelon of objects but a museum's extraordinary capacity to offer history for potential contribution to a creative future'.*

The designers were encouraged to view the Museum's collection as a creative space where they could 'meet their Muse' and draw inspiration. For most of them their initial visit was overwhelming, as the Museum holds one of the most extensive and diverse collections of historical and contemporary fashion, textiles and dress in Australia. Its first acquisitions of clothing were made in the early 1880s and it now holds more than 30,000 items of men's, women's and children's clothing and accessories, textiles from nearly every continent, fashion plates, photographs, swatch books, designer archives and fashion magazines.

The exhibition itself featured the item or items each designer selected as a source of inspiration from the Museum's collection, a 'creative process box' into which they placed design drawings, fabric experiments, production photos, inspirational images and a mannequin displaying the new outfit they created based on these 'muses'.

Each designer was also asked to work with their own team of stylist, make-up artist and photographer to create a 'fashion image' which was placed alongside the new garment they created. This gave them the opportunity to complete their vision for the garment and express how they imagined it being worn, without the constraints of commercial considerations.

Easton Pearson outfit:

Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson selected three items from the Powerhouse Museum collection to use as their source of inspiration for this outfit:

H6177: A woman's sleeveless red cotton brocade padded jacket trimmed with black velvet, ricrac braid and beads, made in Europe about 1900.
D3740: Cockade fan made of spelt fibres in Italy about 1890.
85/474: Lavender fan, constructed from woven reeds with muslin panel painted with lavender sprigs.

Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton described the creative process from inspiration to production:

Fan skirt - 'We were attracted by the shape, colour, and texture of the fan (D6177). We have been working with raffia embroidery on calico for a few seasons and could picture an extension of the work we had done.
'The flare of the skirt is referential to the shape of the fan. The raffia colour and texture mirrors the straw of the fan. The looping at the hip line was transferred from the pom-pom on the fan. We had used that looping previously on the hem of a raffia skirt. We bound the edge of the skirt with reddish pink raffia over stitch, as in the rigid oval fan (85/474). The length and shape of the skirt makes it look rather like a traditional dancing skirt from Asia or the Pacific Islands.

Striped calico bodice with hand tacking - 'We have been looking at the inside construction of old garments for many years and love the obvious hand stitching that often appears on the lining. Indeed the linings themselves often hold more appeal than the more ornate outer layer. We have done a lot of work with hand stitching on calico in the past and it was easy to extract the essence of this garment and marry it with our current themes.
'We loved the shape of the little Balkan tunic (H6177): it fits with a silhouette that we have been working on for 2002. As there was no chance of finding a beautiful striped calico similar to the lining, we devised the idea of running machine stitch rows in two colours on the base cloth before we commenced the hand tacking.

'Taking both the naive patterns that appear on the lining as a result of the braid being attached to the outer layer in patterns, and also the hand tacked rows that hold the two layers together, we configured the hand tacked pattern on to our own tunic shape. The garment needed some reference to the more ornate outer layer and so we used some metal katori sequins (one of our very constant materials) at random, loosely attached by the tacking. This gave the garment an air of dilapidated grandeur whilst still retaining the naivety of the original tunic lining.' - Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson.
Bolinger, Donna-May 2002


Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson of Brisbane-based label Easton Pearson established their design partnership in 1989 when the former friends came together to 'create clothes with soul' (Harper's Bazaar, March 2000).

They wanted to bring all the things they loved in life to their designs, resulting in an eclectic marrying of influences, from their passion for vintage and traditional textiles to their love of old movies and characters from books.

They oversee the management of the business, but spend most of their time designing, even when travelling. They describe it as '.. a constant evolutionary process. So we don't finish one range and put it away and sit down and start a new range. The ideas are almost in constant motion. And most of what we do is referencing either material that we've already been working on before or things that we've already done before that we want to evolve.'

Their rich romantic clothes feature beautifully handcrafted embroidered, beaded, appliqued and sequinned fabrics. They design the clothes and all the decorative detail and pattern on their textiles and work with skilled artisans in India, Hong Kong and Vietnam to create the decoration on the cloth. Garment production is done in Australia.

They produce three collections a year spring/summer, autumn/winter and cruise which are sold locally and internationally. They have their own boutiques in Sydney and Brisbane.
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences 2002


Gift of Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, 2007
14 March, 2007

Cite this Object

Outfit, women's, Easton Pearson, Australia/India 2015, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 November 2017, <https://ma.as/357114>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/357114 |title=Outfit, women's, Easton Pearson, Australia/India |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
Know more about this object?
Have a question about this object?