Linda started sewing as a child, making entries for the Milne & Choyce Dolls’ Shows. By 11 she was making her own clothes "to be different".
When Linda was 17, she spent a few months working on the finishing table at John Barry Ltd in Queens Arcade, which made high fashion womenswear designed by Beatrice Cross. She remembers buying a length of red and green tartan wool, along with linings and interlinings from Smith & Caughey’s department store to sew a Carnaby-style trouser suit using the tailoring methods she had observed in the John Barry workroom.
Linda then went to work for Larry Cross as an assistant in the design room at Bendon, where she learnt pattern making and garment production. "Like every young designer, I left just as I was becoming useful, to start my own boutique at age 21."
Linda’s shop was called Country Road Craft. Opened in 1973, the Avondale boutique sold her embroidered clothing as well as handmade pottery, tooled leather bags, wooden toys made by her husband and a variety of craftwear made by family and friends. Linda would spend her evenings beading 1970s hippie and Gatsby-style garments, which would sell out of the window the very next day.
When she started a family in 1977, Linda and her husband John moved their business focus to décor and furnishings. They opened a furniture/décor shop in Mt Eden, which was very successful. Linda continued her passion for design by setting the style of the soft furnishings, and the image of the business.
In the 1980s, Linda opened a childrenswear shop in Mt Eden. With a small staff she made and sold her own label Chippo. "Often we had small sized women coming in to buy teen sizes, so I promoted a range of Petite womenswear, which was a logical move as I had been wearing the 14 year old sizes myself."
In 1994 Linda concentrated on womenswear again this time under the label Millenium, a collective for new clothing designers based in Newmarket, Auckland. When the collective disbanded after four years, Linda continued the Millenium label, opening a branch in High Street. She showed in the inaugural L’Oreal NZ Fashion Week in 2001 and a year later introduced a new range of art inspired daywear under the label d’collage at Fashion Week’s Fashion Friday. However eveningwear continued to be Linda’s main focus for a few years, designing off-the-peg and made to order designs under her label Linda Evans.
There has always been an element of art influencing Linda’s designs, with her use of applique, beading and screenprinting. Today she enjoys exploring these methods for a small clientele, without the pressure of running a full-time business.
Text by Kelly Dix. Banner image © Linda Evans.
Published October 2013.