Welsh fashion designer Jayne Pierson – who has created outfits for the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and several of the Kardashians – feels a close affinity to Aston Martin. After all, her design studio is in Carmarthenshire, in South Wales, not far from the British marque’s DBX facility in St Athan. Because of this, while working at the latest London Fashion Week, last September , she arranged to borrow Aston Martin’s luxury SUV, the DBX707, to transport her guests to the show in central London.
“That model is manufactured at St Athan,” explains the 53-year-old. “It’s actually a Welsh car. That’s why I thought, ‘What a wonderful synergy’.”
Pierson, whose most recent designs combine Celtic mythology with sustainability, says that the entire ethos of the Aston Martin brand resonates strongly with her.
“I myself use a lot of Welsh heritage textiles in my fashion designs. So there’s a great connection between the Welsh heritage of my brand and that of Aston Martin.”
Although she has never owned an Aston Martin herself, she says the DBX707 is by far her favourite model. Thanks to its ample interior space, this powerful but luxury SUV would be perfect for both her professional life and her domestic set-up in rural Wales, where she lives with her 18-year-old twin girls Molly and Daisy.
“I live in the middle of nowhere and I’m driving in the countryside all the time. This car would be great for the kids, the dogs, and all the suitcases and fashion stuff I always take with me.”
Pierson, who has worked in fashion since the 1990s, and has even designed interiors for another British car manufacturer in her time, sees a strong link between clothing design and car design. She draws parallels between the car showroom and the catwalk.
“The silhouette of a car is like the silhouette of a garment,” says this womenswear specialist. “As a car or a fashion designer, you have to have an innate understanding of this: an eye for the quality of shape and form.”
She points out how we always spot the outfit someone is wearing before we see the person wearing it, just as we spot the car before we see the driver at the wheel.
“If it’s a fancy, expensive car that you’ve saved up for, it says a lot about the character of a person,” she says. “It’s aspirational. It’s the same with fashion: you wear a jacket because it makes you feel a million dollars and you want people to perceive you in a certain way.”
While Celtic culture figures strongly in her clothing designs, Pierson has spent much of her life living away from her native Wales.
Born in Swansea to a fashion designer mother and an airline pilot father, she relocated with her family to Texas from the age of 10 to 17.
At high school in Dallas, she felt alienated from the mainstream American culture – an experience, she says, that encouraged her to explore more avant-garde styles in teenage fashion and music.
She remembers espousing the British gothic style of the 1980s in her clothing, which very much clashed with the all-American, preppy styles of the Deep South where she lived.
“Everyone was into [American] football and cheerleading and prom queens,” she remembers. “But my clothes and the music I listened to were alternative. I didn’t strive to be popular.” As a result, she says she was “bullied relentlessly” by her school peers.
After leaving school she took a degree in performing arts before forming a pop-punk band called Gouge in the early 1990s, where she provided vocals, guitar and occasionally viola. Together they enjoyed moderate success on the Los Angeles music scene, signing to EMI and releasing a clutch of singles.
But Pierson soon realised her future lay in fashion rather than music. A second degree followed, this time in fashion design, after which she secured work with top British designers Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
By 2009 she had established her own label, initially basing herself in London but later setting up a studio in Carmarthenshire, from where she still works today. Employing around 30 people, it’s based at an airport – Pembrey Airport – that her pilot father purchased years ago. “It’s wonderful in the sense that people can fly in for fittings,” she says.
As well as embracing Celtic mythology in her designs, Pierson says she tries to make her clothing as sustainable as possible, manufacturing all her garments in West Wales.
“Our focus is on creating ethically minded slow fashion that celebrates craftsmanship and explores fashion in a socially responsible way,” she says on her website. “We create clothing that will never be thrown away because it will be cherished and looked after. Each Jayne Pierson piece is intended as a garment for life that we will repair if damaged or that we will reconfigure for the owner if their body or needs change.”
For her latest collection, she used a revolutionary process of 3D printing onto textiles made from recycled ocean plastic waste. She says the cutting-edge technology in her luxurious couture is similar to the way Aston Martin combines high quality and technology in their car designs.
Asked to explain her design style, she says it’s simpler to describe the type of person who might wear her clothes.
“Someone who is fearless, who marches to the sound of their own drum, who has this cheeky eccentricity and an irony and a humour about them. Someone who isn’t afraid to do things differently and, at the same time, be mindful about the environment, rather than consuming loads of things they don’t need. I always ask myself: ‘Does the world really need another dress?’”
Next on Pierson’s horizon is a project to establish a fashion academy celebrating the talent of her fellow Celts. She plans to call it the Celtic Fashion Council.
“The fashion industry in Wales doesn’t really exist and most designers end up going to London because there isn’t the support structure here,” she adds. Indeed, she herself initially had to relocate to London to make her name, and her press office is still in the capital.
She points out how there are currently many “talented tailors, machinists, seamstresses and pattern cutters” based in the rural regions of her country – remnants of the hundreds of woollen mills that used to be scattered across this region.
Pierson admits that, thanks to all that time in Texas and London, she has lived more years outside of her native Wales than within it. Nevertheless, nowadays she feels more settled in Carmarthenshire than ever.
“I love being away from London,” she said in a recent BBC interview. “I think it’s good for the soul, to be able to breathe. I feel we have space and landscapes and wonderful horizons to think of new concepts and new innovations.
“And I’m able to use local skills, local heritage and crafts that are based in Wales so that gives me a unique signature. I couldn’t imagine living in London or anywhere else to be honest.”