Rachel Easting's favourite things

By Zoe Walker

Art is part of life and work for designer Rachel Easting. One half of the duo behind Twenty-seven Names, Easting shares her favourite influences with Viva.

Rachel Easting in the elevator of Hotel De Brett. Photo / Babiche Martens
Rachel Easting in the elevator of Hotel De Brett. Photo / Babiche Martens

Rather than the traditional fashion week runway show, Wellington-based label Twenty-seven Names held an exhibition to showcase their latest collection in Auckland last night - including several illustrations by co-designer Rachel Easting.

The label, established by Easting and Anjali Stewart in 2006, has always counted contemporary art as a key influence.

Then there is Easting's own art background; she studied Fine Arts at Otago Polytechnic, and has been a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards with her life-size sculpture of a lion attacking a unicorn. Last night's exhibition, which also featured photographic portraits in collaboration with photographer Guy Coombes, was a way for Easting and Stewart to focus on the prints in the collection.

"This year we wanted to shake things up for ourselves and present the collection in the form of an exhibition," says Easting.

"The collection is heavy on prints and detailing, and we wanted to explore those ideas in the form of drawings and photographs."


1. Lift at Hotel de Brett

I love staying at this lovely spot when we come up to Auckland. I especially love the fit-out of modern design and art, including the awesome lift - fully lined with mirrors. It's always essential to make a home away from home, to live and work in, especially over Fashion Week when I crave a bit of relaxing time among the mayhem of the rest of the trip.

2. My Paper Bag

On our trip to Europe earlier this year we spent two nights in a sleepy little town in the Netherlands called Maastricht, on the border with Belgium. After two full-on weeks, we took it a little easy, slept in, went to the movies and shopped. I bought a beautiful leather bag, designed and made to look like a paper bag. My Paper Bag was designed by Ramon Middelkoop of Rotterdam. It is made from 100 per cent leather, is vegetable tanned and produced by the Fair Trade Certified Crafts Resource Centre in Calcutta. It's beautiful and is the best thing I bought while we were away.

3. Musee d'Orsay

I first visited the Musee d'Orsay in Paris with my dad and sister Caroline when I was 11 years old. Somehow, over a four-day weekend, we managed to get around and up virtually every major attraction - the Eiffel Tower, Arc du Triomphe, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Louvre, Musee Rodin (another favourite), La defence, the list goes on. I have no idea how we fitted it all in. My favourite would have to be the Musee d'Orsay. We visited it again in June and luckily also got to see a huge retrospective of my favorite Impressionist, Edouard Manet. The exhibition was incredible, and made me want to paint again.

4. Heartbreaker shirt

Anjali and I created the first textile print for our summer collection, Still Waters Run Deep, with the help of our lovely friend, Marta Buda. I absolutely love it and we used the silk in a handful of styles, but my favourite would have to be the two-toned "Heartbreaker" shirt, which uses a combo of both colourways. I can't wait to wear this every day.

5. Juliette Hogan's "Joan" sweater

I am a big fan of keeping warm and I love wool. Juliette Hogan's "Joan" sweater is the most lovely jumper ever. I wore it every day for the first week I owned it and whenever it's cold - practically every day at the moment - it's so hard not to put it on. I have to control myself not to wear it daily. I've had so many compliments on it I can't even count them.

6. The Book of Shrigley

The best art book ever - a large collection of British artist David Shrigley's drawings, paintings and notes. I bought this with Anjali when we were in Sydney staying with my sister in Paddington, in the summer of 2006 when we started our business. We were having a two-week break between my final exhibition at art school and starting to work full-time on the label. We found the book in Oxford St in a fantastic bookshop called Ariel Books, and laughed hysterically, reading it for hours. It has been a constant source of inspiration and enjoyment ever since.

7. Tracy Emin retrospective

One of my favourite artists has always been Tracey Emin. Anjali bought me a beautiful little mug last year for my birthday from Tracy Emin International, Emin's brand of books, gifts and so on, plus a book from her recent 2009 exhibition at White Cube, called Those Who Suffer Love. While we were in London earlier this year, the Hayward Gallery was showing Emin's first major retrospective, Love Is What You Want. I felt so lucky that we got to see it. There were works spanning her whole career - the famous appliqued blankets, neon lights, films, and personal objects and photos. It was truly awesome, such an amazing show.

8. Colander and teapot

My mum's partner Robin has a lovely French jug, white enamel with a blue rim. It's called Florence, and has been used for years to make coffee in at her bach in Waikanae. It reminds me of summer and my childhood and while we were away I was on the lookout for one of my own. We were wandering around Notting Hill in London, with our friends Matt and Sara, and I came across a homeware store/cafe, and they had a range of exactly these. They didn't have a Florence, but I did get a teapot and colander that match it perfectly, and I love them.

9. Comme des Garcons shoes

Anjali bought me a pair of black canvas CdG trainers when she went to Japan at the beginning of 2008, and I wore them to death. They're so simple, but such a perfect shape and fit, and the quality was amazing. Last year we went to Japan together - one of the most amazing places I've ever been - and top of my list to get while we were there was a new pair of these shoes. This time I bought a pair of leather trainers, which are still going strong.

10. Drawing of Eve

For the launch of our summer collection in Sydney in April, I drew five portraits to accompany the photographic portraits by Guy Coombs and video piece by Tane Coffin. I haven't drawn in a while and it's something I miss a huge amount. I just don't have the time to give it what it really requires to do well, but I spent four days in Sydney drawing after we did our photo shoot. It felt like such a luxury to have that amount of time to spend on something so personal. I have had my favourite, Eve, framed, and have it on the wall in my living room.

- NZ Herald

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