Sarah Mason Walden of Peacoquette
Pattern and textile designer Sarah Mason Walden is the genius behind Peacoquette and her designs have appeared just about everywhere, including your favorite Netflix shows! We couldn’t fit her entire (amazing!!!) interview in our magazine so here are some exclusive excerpts, just for you.
How do you find inspiration?
I’ve been obsessed with time travel since I was four and saw Somewhere In Time. My logic knows it is impossible and yet my instinct has always been to grab things – artifacts or random arcane knowledge – just in case I get zapped into the Tudor era or the jazz age or wake up in the Petit Trianon. Most of my designs are historically influenced whether in being a literal recreation or a melding of different eras into one.
And music, of course. I love listening to artists like Rufus Wainwright and Fiona Apple who have such lush, romantic and dramatic expressiveness. My secret go-to for anything creative whether it be designing or writing my books is listening to a composer named Murray Gold. He did the soundtrack for the first several seasons of the new incarnation of Doctor Who. He puts so much pure emotion and tension and sorrow and joy into the score that I just let it carry me away.
Pinterest is such a great help to me. Just last night I spent an hour making a “What Would Miss Piggy Do?” board to get me in the mood for a new collection that will feature a more vibrant and modern palette than I usually use.
Who are you inspired by?
I write books so people like Madeleine L’Engle and Guy Gavriel Kay who can spin reality and fantasy together so easily are a big inspiration. Edward Gorey, of course, is a huge inspiration to me with his balance of macabre and whimsy. My brand’s motto is “Elegant Whimsy” and no one did it better than Gorey.
I am a Disney fan and always have been not just their movies but their theme parks. I adore the attention to detail. Every square inch is created with the intention of how it impacts the whole. It is brilliant. When I lived in LA, I had a season pass and would go by myself to just marvel at the artistry of the place.
As a Tennessean, Dolly Parton is our queen. She’s as amazing as she seems and more!
I really feel an affinity to Mnemosyne, the Greek Goddess of Memory, and mother to the nine muses. My memories and a lifelong passion for historical marginalia and ephemera seem to be the genesis of my creations more often than not. My friends have decided that I am the backup hard drive to their own memory because I seem to be gifted at remembering the most random or trivial details about our shared past. So sometimes I am struck by wanting to create something in the color palette of a dream I had ten years ago or like a dress my childhood best friend’s Barbie wore. I don’t have an eidetic memory. In fact, I can’t even remember how to spell eidetic half the time, but I do seem to have a particularly strong power of recall. It helps me make connections between the present and the past. These connections are evocative for some people and I think that is why what I do resonates with them.
My family and friends are greatly inspiring to me, too. Some inspire me with their creativity and drive. Some have always been so supportive of my creations in big and small ways. I literally couldn’t have achieved what I have without my husband. Early on in our now-eighteen-year relationship, he recognized I was a person best left in her own little world. I have some chronic health issues that leave my energy supply in limited amounts. He decided he would provide for both of us (and eventually our daughter that came along) so that I could just float and be happy, rested, and creative. If I had had to try to maintain my previous 9 to 5, it would have taken all my energy and I am not convinced I would have been able to find the drive to teach myself graphic design and I definitely would not ever have been in a whimsical mood. So his understanding of my fundamental nature has been a big inspiration to me. He recently joined me at Peacoquette HQ full time and it is fantastic to have him on my team.
What other activities/hobbies pique your interest?
The most overriding one would be my utter fascination with the literary Brontë family. I have a bit of a shrine to early Victorian West Yorkshire in my office. I even named my daughter after Emily. I usually have a collection growing of some sort or the other that I obsessively collect for a few years before moving on. Currently, it is black and white autographed photos of stars of the 20th century wearing white ties with black tuxedos. I’ve got Laurence Olivier, Cab Calloway, Marlene Dietrich, Jimmy Stewart, Fred Astaire, and probably two dozen more. I’m also a bit on a Lady Caroline Lamb kick. I’m always on the lookout for a good signed Edward Gorey print or a random movie prop. EBay’s siren song of FOMO will be my undoing. I check my list of two hundred saved searches at least once a day. My friends are quite used to me posting on social media about my latest weird little acquisitions for my pretend museum.