They call it “mystical earthwear for spiritual beings.”
Jedda-Daisy Culley and Caroline Wels are the creative directors behind the redux of the iconic eighties label Desert Designs, a pioneering collaboration between Steven Culley (Jedda’s dad), David Wroth, and one of Australia’s most recognized indigenous artists, Jimmy Pike.
I first met Jedda on a dance floor circa 2003, and even then, in her cowboy boots, she exuded a sacred-psychedelic aesthetic that suggested she’d take on a lifelong passion that stood for a cultural coming together. Last week I caught up with her and Caroline (a fellow fine arts graduate) in their favorite spot in Centennial Park, just in the thick of their work on their exhibition for the Museum of Contemporary Art, a display of texta-pen drawings Pike made more than thirty years ago. “Caroline and I have been climbing that tree together for over ten years,” said Jedda, pointing across the wattle. “From the top of the tree, you look out onto this grassy spot and the wattle trees.” It’s a “little spot of paradise nestled amongst the chaos,” says Caroline, reiterating the significance of their brand, which has been built on the roots of “nostalgia and friendship.”
The girls’ digital appropriations of Pike’s original artworks are more than a radical artistic collaboration—they’re an homage to an artist who speaks to a new generation of dreamers.
“I thought that through Desert Designs, we could find a way of solving our relationship with the natural world. I was attracted to the idea of adapting the cosmology of our indigenous peoples and enlightening the entire planet with the philosophy behind the Dreamtime,” says Jedda. “Insofar as fashion can serve as a gateway to alternative thinking, Desert Designs is committed to inspiring people to discover this for themselves and adapt these concepts into our everyday living. I hope that through this indigenous knowledge we can learn how to live in harmony with nature.”
For Caroline, the mission is also about a collision of two worlds. “I believe there is a certain kind of magic in Jimmy Pike’s works that resonates and speaks to the new generation; a long-lost connection to nature that we’re striving to reclaim.”
And who would they most like to see wearing their label?
Bart Simpson and David Bowie.
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The exhibition will run until October 27.
For more information, visit http://desertdesigns.com.au.
Photos: Ryan Brabazon