The Mercura SistersEyewear Designers
“We were always the fashion hogs at night and dressed in jeans by day.”
[Ed. Note: The Mercura Sisters have been New York fashion mascots since they broke into the scene in the 1970s with their handmade creations. Today you see their eyewear on Lady Gaga, in Vogue Italia, and favored by Rodarte.]
Merrilee: We grew up on the West Coast, near the border between the US and Canada, on the Puget Sound, and moved to New York in 1975. Originally, we had in mind coming to New York for a month and then everyone wanted everything we were making, so we decided to stay.
As children, we made all our own clothes and we never dressed like anyone else you can imagine. My sister and I were always under the influence of fashion, but at the same time we were both born to be artists.
Rachel: Our designs are influenced by everything we come in contact with: Frank Gehry, architecture, Erté, the Russian Constructivists, the Abstract Expressionists. You know art has been very influential on us and we have sort of mixed it all together.
Now we work really quickly on paper. We have thousands of sketches from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and present day. When I say thousands, I mean thousands. If ever we’re at a loss for an idea we just pick up our notebook and look through it.
Merrilee: When we went out [in the 1970s], we used to get dressed up in whatever we wanted! We made dresses that were woven with metal, strung with all these things we liked, just because we wanted to do it. We worked with a lot of performance artists at a variety of clubs, like Taylor Mead who was filmed at the Mud Club in 1976, or was it the Pyramid? We were always trading with people, like Fleury Boell. We had suits from Randolph Duke. We worked a lot with Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, so he did a lot of trades with us. We must have 200 lbs. of clothing in storage at the Chelsea Hotel.
Now we’re just dressing very simplified. We don’t really go out anymore. We are at home and we work. We dress in a very humble worker-tone, as opposed to fashionista-tone. I would say that for the first 25 years we were in New York, we were more fashionista-tone. We’ve both become more subdued, but we still love wearing our glasses out.” – The Mercura Sisters to Shop Ghost
The Mercura Sisters photographed at their studio in New York by Charlotte Wales.