Monday, February 13, 2012


A little over eight years ago Ron and I were struggling to make ends meet. I had acquired a lot of vintage velvet fabrics and trim and seen Robin Brown's famous purses, sooo.....I "borrowed" from her ideas (only slightly and not even like hers really). But the six or eight purses I made helped us get through a difficult Fall of 2003. We still had a few that Ron had not sold to certain attorney's wives in Austin, and then we found ourselves set-up in Fredericksburg for Trade Days.
    We put the remaining few purses on a seperate table with some other (more original) creations of mine and tried to sell what we could.
    And so it was on a cold, windy, late fall day in Fredericksburg that Ron and I met Robin and John - Magnolia Pearl. I was MORTIFIED!!!! Imagine as I saw those two strolling around the corner, headed straight to our tent. I looked at Ron and said, " Oh my God that's Robin Brown from Magnolia Pearl"!!!
Ron said, "Magnolia who"? "I've never heard of it".
    I almost made Ron pull the table, but they were already upon us and I was just going to have to see it through. They came up and looked around, talked with us and made their way to the table of purses. Robin was wonderful!!!! She actually complimented me on my "rendition" of some of her work and explained that she had been copied so much it no longer concerned her (she was being gracious, but that is Robin).
    Since then we have been friends, Ron and I have been blessed by their talent, generosity and the occasional odd job ( book and magazine photo shoots, setting up at Marburger, .....A FASHION SHOW).
So I wanted to give all of you a small look at the beautiful personality behind the wonder that is MAGNOLIA PEARL.                                                                                                                                                                   As the incredible event approaches, that being the Magnolia Pearl Fashion Imaginarium in conjunction with the Grand Opening of Carol Hicks Bolton's Labratoire de Design; all of which will be featured in Jo Pacham's fabulous magazine, Where Women Create, I invite you to enjoy yet another one-of-a-kind interview with an incredibly creative mind.

BLF: There has been much said about the things that inspire one to create. It seems that you draw your inspiration from your life experience. What have been some of the most profound influences on you as an artist and a person?

MP: Growing up in Hollywood and Northern California in the 60's and 70's definitely altered my perspective about life and being raised mostly by my father who was passionate about art, music, nature, poetry and God was my biggest influence. His mother, my grandmother, Brown, from Poland made everything by hand. She grew up working in sewing factories as a child in New York and was a master seamstress. Between her and my father, I always had a needle and thread or a paint brush in my hand. My mother, Anna, was a bigger influence than I ever realized until lately. Sometimes having a hurtful past causes us the reject the blessings in that past and until we are healed by the awareness of the enormous gift life is and the pain as a teacher of humility. My mother was a creative genius and to her I am so grateful. Her spirit will be ever present at the fashion show. 

BLF: Your parents, Anna and Preston, both artists in their
own rite, who sadly left us far before their time were obviously a huge influence on you.How does their memory affect and encourage you still today? 

MP:I'm just starting to realize how powerful genetics are…. My parents were the most creatively driven people I have known --Everything they did in their lives was art, almost to a fault. I find that same artistic madness comes over me to the point I have to remind myself to breathe and sleep --neither of which I am good at. Even if I lived to be 300, I would never be able to complete all the creations in my head!   

                                                                                                                                                              BLF: You have a huge cult following. There are thousands who would love to see you open a brick and mortar store. Humor us with a word picture of what that would look like.

MP: The Whistle Stop Cafe meets Nanny McFee stocked with Queen Victoria's monogramed underwear on a farm in the south of France with acres of flowers, fruit trees, and organic vegetables; and Idgie and Sipsey would be my sales girls of course. Maybe I'll have this store in Fredericksburg someday.

BLF:  If you had to enter a contest with three of your favorite designers and you all had to use polyester animal print fabric, how would you incorporate that into your design?

 MP: Oh that's easy. I would build an over-sized, GIGANTIC, patchwork crazy-quilt coat all hand stitched. And Carol, if you're reading this, you'd get the first one!.

BLF: In the years that i have known you, your clothing has gone from brightly colored velvets and brocades to a more earthy sort of linen and lace look. Will you give us a suggestion as to what lies ahead... behind the metaphorical Magnolia Pearl Curtain?

MP:  That's a secret. But I can tell you I am very excited, more than ever, about what's to come. Think plantation, prairie, peasant with a hint of Victorian orphans!

BLF:  Imitation is considered to be the most sincere form of flattery. Many have attempted to imitate your style, but you seem to be always one step ahead of not only the imitators, but perhaps the fashion design world in general. How do you continue to come up with new and unique ideas every season, year after year?

MP: We all have a purpose and I feel like mine is to design and create, but I haven't quite figured out why yet…. How does my work fit into the master plan???  Until God shows me what I'm to do next, I'll be making clothes in the beautiful Hills of Texas. "All" of us have a creative genius inside. For me, to be alive is to create. It's really all I've known since I was a child.

BLF:  You have expressed your admiration of Carol Hicks Bolton many times. How has it been collaborating with her on the Magnolia Pearl Fashion Imaginarium and the Grand Opening of Carol Hicks Bolton's Labratoire de Design?

MP: It's a gift. Carol is so gracious and generous that it can only be a gift from the heavens. Thanks, God.

BLF:  Magnolia Pearl is not simply a brand name; it represents both a philosophy and a lifestyle. Those of us who have been exposed to the Magnolia Pearl lifestyle know that everything from the sugar-rock and sea shell encrusted bird baths to the faux bois arbor to the lushly embellished roll royce and airstream, even your.... well all the "things" in your life you make unique, magical, and wonderful. What propels you to surround yourself with such art and beauty and enchantment?

MP: My parents were extremely dysfunctional but highly creative, so our home was like creativity boot camp. My father, Preston, was spiritual above anything else and he taught me that God was the "master" artist and to create beauty was the ultimate reflection to show Him we are paying attention. So, beauty to me. . . it's a God thing.

BLF: Your style is reminiscent of of by-gone eras.... what are the feelings and emotions that you weave into your creations and that you hope to somehow magically transfer to the wearer?

MP: I hope Magnolia Pearl Beautiful Wear evokes passion in women reminiscent of a time when quality, beauty, and passion were valued above all else. A time when beauty was done for beauty-sake. A flower blooms whether we see it or not. Maybe we should take our queue from Mother Earth and bloom "just" because we can.

BLF:  If given the opportunity to give a message to every single inhabitant of this beautiful planet Earth, what would your message be?

MP: We are here to love and be loved.

It is no surprise that Robin has such a huge and faithful following. Few people I have known are able to create such incredible beauty that also instills in the owner, at least some, of the rich history, creative passion and deep spirit that is our very special friend Robin Brown.