After more than 22 years spent living abroad in Asia – 14 years in Cambodia and 8 years in Phuket – designer Cassandra Harper now calls Brisbane, Australia home. Pictured here: Cassandra, her beautiful home styled with her own textiles, husband Ralph, beloved dog Enzo.
ABOUT THE BRAND CASSANDRA HARPER
Founded in 1996 in Cambodia by Australian designer Cassandra Harper, CASSANDRA HARPER, the label, is a coveted artisanal Brand renowned for its poetic use of Shibori silk. The essence and soul of the brand is its much loved artisanal prints. Only matched by its designers’ steadfast desire to design and create prints and fabrics the old-fashioned way. Shibori, known to be one of the most ancient of dyeing techniques, resonates in a collection of minimalist shirting, kaftans, high-end resort wear and exquisite accessories. Beautiful unique pieces in which the prints speak for themselves – created by hand, by craftsman who have been trained by generations of craftsmen before them. She now divides her time between her home base of Brisbane, Australia, and her favourite cities of Phnom Penh, Jaipur and Delhi. The endless traveller, creating her own stories in her fabrics that are painstakingly created by hand, hour upon hour, day upon day, until they reach their unique perfection.
Cassandra Harper was a young Australian designer living in Cambodia when she was seduced by its golden silk industry. The designer, who lived in Asia for 22 years – 14 years in Cambodia and 8 years in Phuket - recalls:
"My early years as a designer started in Cambodia where the French colonial influence was so evident in the architecture and the wide tree lined boulevards. My first shop, which I established in Phnom Penh, was established in one of those beautiful old buildings, crumbling, falling apart and in need of a lot of love. I had fallen in love with the incredible patterned tiles that adorned each room. This was the beginning of a love affair with the old, the antiquated and the patina of things created in the past. Cambodia is famous for its golden silk industry and it is here that I learnt to appreciate the fine art of hand-loomed silk. Whilst based in Cambodia, I also started to explore the region and grow my business. I opened one more store in Cambodia and then two stores followed in Phuket.
"In 1998, I took my first trip to India. This was the beginning of a great love affair with another
country that truly brings my creative spirit to life. I am crazy for the colour, the people, the spice
smells and all that the wonderful shambolic country has to offer. What inspires me most, though,
is the patience of the crafts people and the knowledge that what they do has continued for centuries.
Jaipur is where is spend most of my time and I travel yearly to work there with their talented artisans.
Each year my respect deepens for the art of block printing. I have been exploring and working with
block printers and colour masters for many years and this is incorporated in all of my collections. I
enjoy block printing on many different mediums from voile, linen and silk.
"When visiting the captivating state of Rajasthan, I visit the forts and crumbling old palaces. Most
often I will stay in a heritage Haveli to be surrounded by and absorb the beauty of a bygone era. I
take inspiration from the hand painted motifs and exquisitely decorated entrances - everywhere you
look there will be something to catch your eye. I am most taken with the flowing and flowery motifs
that feel feminine and whimsical.
“Many years ago in Delhi I met charming gentleman, selling incredible textiles. We shared an appreciation of beautiful pieces and an eye for something unique and special. And it is here, with this wonderful man that I began creating Shibori silks. Over the years we have forged a wonderful relationship combining business and friendship.
"The time and effort that goes into making these silks is endless and the true beauty is in their uniqueness. Each piece is slightly different with its own personality. Each season a new colour palette is forged. Each collection, the fabrics spring to life using the age old traditions of this art. I often allow the fabric to lead the design and I like to keep the silhouette simple and refined to allow the personality of the textile to shine. This is my endeavour, to create a timeless piece.
"I consider Shibori silk as something to be collected and cared for; something that is as beautiful as it is timeless, luxurious as it is forever wearable, creating its own unique story."
“CUTTING STRAIGHT INTO COLOR REMINDS ME OF THE DIRECT CARVING OF THE SCULPTOR. ” Henri Matisse