Something I have observed for some time and can now wholly vouch for is the beautiful truth that when the best creators go away on holiday, they always seem to come back even more masterful in their artistry. Not even that, but they seem to surpass some level of normal thinking and come back supercharged with brilliance and force. From there, the need to ‘vege and blob’ does not suffice, so the holiday one embarks on becomes a sudden launch into fulfilling the vision of this new project that just came to them as they saw the charismatic smile of a weathered fisherman early one morning, or stood bubbling with awe and contemplation inside a charming old church on the hillside of some sleepy little village.
Wherever they set foot, fresh experience adds insight, stitch by stitch into the fabric of their being.
Such is the way of Lauren Cassar. She is someone whose work cannot be overlooked when it comes to considering the influence that land and place have over creative expression… And she also does a good job of making us want to move somewhere we can discard all heavy and restrictive items of clothing we posses, to instead traipse around in nothing but delightful sarongs and the extraordinary freedom of body confidence.
Interview with Lauren from Mirador
Artist and Fashion Designer
I understand the word ‘Mirador’ is about seeing things, perceiving or looking… Can you tell me a bit more about the decision to give your brand this name - what brought it about?
I first voiced the idea last year when hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees, which is where I came across the name.
I was rambling on about how I wanted each artwork to emulate the feeling of looking into a view, with large obvious shapes (like a mountain) but also tiny details that make that all add up to make that view so breathtaking. I then asked my partner, who happens to speak Spanish what that sign meant and he replied ‘Mirador' means a 'view point' in Spanish. I decided then and there.
You know when you are travelling and you have this clarity, this drive, and when you get home you hit the ground running. Mirador had been brewing in my mind for years, but speaking about it aloud made it so real, and I’m not one to just talk about these grand plans but never act - I like to have them figured out in my mind before I even say a word about it.
Your textile collection includes some of the most delightfully happy and artful items of clothing I have ever seen - explain the the feelings you experience seeing each pattern and idea essentially become a walking work of art on your customers…
It’s quite a unique feeling. Sometimes if I see someone wearing Mirador in the street or in my local grocery store, I’ll rustle up enough courage up to blurt out “I painted that!” because I feel so proud, and having a chat to the person wearing Mirador always teaches me something, informs a new design decision, or even just confirms ideas in my mind.
I have sent sarongs all over the world, from North East Arnhem land to Mexico City, which just blows my mind that my paintings are gallivanting the streets, or the desert, or the beach. And also that they speak universally, even though my designs are quite ‘Australiana’ in tone. It really is very special. I sometimes have dreams about the adventures they, the sarongs, are on.
The process of creating your prints seems like it must be very meditative, experimental and liberating. What light can you shed on your process to challenge those who believe they don't ‘have enough time’ to create or live in such a way?
The romantic side of Mirador is certainly painting. Although sometimes a painstaking process, I hope one day I don’t have to do the business side of things and can just be creative. I am lucky enough to have some serious creativity in my blood, so I honestly didn’t have a choice in the matter, this lifestyle is so ingrained in me but sharing the cathartic values of creating art with others is hugely important to me. I’ve just started studying my Masters in Art Therapy at La Trobe University, so I am now officially learning the theoretical side (as well as in practice) about the healing powers of art in a mental health setting. It’s incredibly powerful how it can bring broken situations of trauma and loss back together again. On a lighter note, since starting my course, conversations about the need for creativity with friends who might not necessarily make time to create have been happening more often. I get requests for ‘painting afternoons’ where we just sit and paint… There is tea, cheese, you know, the lot. I’m so excited to bring my knowledge from my course in collaboration with Mirador to make it ever so more meaningful.
Mirador sits in a difficult realm, this bazaar fusion of fashion and art. My new collection, I have been painting and designing for 10 months plus, which sets me back from the seasonal timeline of fashion, and I don’t have the opportunities of wholesale buyers because of this. I can get slightly overwhelmed by this, and feel as if I can’t keep up, but my lovely friend Seb reminded me the other day that “the rule is, there is no rules.” Which kind of made me take a deep breath and realise I’m doing the right thing.
Your pieces are created with very sound ethics in mind - has the concept of ethical fashion and conscious consumption always been important to you, or does it evolve the more you learn about owning a small business?
My main motivation behind making Mirador ethical, stems from the belief that everyone is equal, no one deserves to be paid less, in harsh working environments, just so one can wear a pretty scarf! That way of thinking just flabbergasts me! The person who makes a garment is just as equal and important in this world as the person who purchases it. It’s as simple as that. Although, I don’t know enough, so yes, my knowledge and how I shape the business will always be evolving!
Who or what is your muse / iconic visionary?
Can I say Mother Nature? I see her every day, in the subtle femininity within nature – the shapes formed by a landscape, the ocean. I think all women are so powerful, precious and the definition of beauty! So I can’t name one. I am inspired by my mother, my sister, my friends, the female authors I read, the Ted Talks I watch. Although I do have a huge crush on the author Zadie Smith, and hope one day I see Mirador cleverly tied around her hair, framing her beautiful face. I really like her take on motherhood… Read up on her if you can.
What themes, items or spaces do you love to work with most and why?
I grew up in Tasmania, that place is just in my bones, I think the island will always influences my aesthetic choices, and just Australia in general. I love the desert. The sacred land I feel so privileged to live on and the variousness of this landscape I call home certainly has its grip on me.
What is your most treasured possession?
I would have to say my lovely cat Fennel, because I guess in a sense, I do possess her! Although I am her slave, but her comfort and personality is so wacky! I can’t imagine my life without her.
What drives the purpose behind your work? How does this transcend your focus from just viewing it as a way of ‘paying the bills’?
A very good question!! My goodness, I ask this every day. Mirador exists because of the need to extend my community I think. Collaboration is such a beautiful thing, and the people I have met and worked with since staring Mirador really warms my heart. Alex aka Lord Newry, Marta Buda, Yasmine of Anyone Girl, Victoria Zschommler, Frenchy, and my dear friend Hilary Faye to name only a few.
What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do, see, own or experience?
I would love to travel to India and learn the process of traditional block printing from the pros, which is in the pipe line and will hopefully happened towards the end of the year!
On one side of my family, we have a connection, or I’ll call it a missing link, coming from the Wiradjuri people out Mudgee way, so getting closer to the bottom of my Ancestry would be a dream of mine. Despite all of this, I hope to listen and learn more from our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander traditional owners. I’m excited to one day learn how making art connects with storytelling and healing within their powerful and resilient culture.
What does Australia mean to you?
Dust, Ocean, the softest pink reflecting from the desert earth upwards. Home.
What do you believe contributes to being a successful ‘creative?’
I’m not going to say hard work, because this path is a gift to yourself, but I will say proficiency, dedication, healthy eating and a sisterhood who can stand by you, who you can bounce your ideas off! Otherwise I would feel like I’m going at this alone, and that would be terrifying! I couldn’t do any of this without my lover Will, who is one of three who started the ethical fashion shopping app, Good On You. What a guy!
I could scroll your Instagram for days! It’s almost like it depicts and embodies the ultimate woman - playful, humble, feminine and free. Tell us more about ‘her’ / the Mirador girl, if she were to exist… ;)
She happens to see beauty, mainly because she takes the time to really ‘see’ whats in front of her. She is a feminist, and not just a t-shirt wearing one, but an engaging one, she stands up for herself and others, finds meaning in her work, cares for the land she is on. Showers herself in sunshine, gets salty in the ocean. But kindness is at the heart of it all! What a woman!!
Interview by Rosie Fea
Photography from Mirador