Ivy Pearce was born 8 June 1914 in Ipswich to George and Sarah-Anne Pearce and grew up in hotels. She attended Dalby Convent where she excelled at piano and later All Hallows Catholic School where she learnt the cello and the violin. Ivy wished to be a concert pianist but her fear of performing in front of an audience made this very difficult.
Her father had purchased a Tiger Moth plane for her when she left school and she took her first flying lessons at 16 and had her pilot’s license two years later. Ivy was one of Australia’s first aerobatic pilots and aviators during the 1930s.
In 1934 she was the runner up in the Courier-Mail Flying Scholarship and “…was the only female among five males who scored free lessons and a year’s membership to the Aero Club.” (The Gold Coast Bulletin, 7 December 1993, p 39). In December 1936 she made national headlines as the youngest entrant in the Brisbane to Adelaide air race. She recorded the fastest time of any woman pilot, heavily handicapped and just two seconds behind the eventual winner.
Ivy married fellow pilot Captain Ernest Jason Hassard in 1937 and they had three children. Following the end of their marriage, Ivy moved to Toowoomba where she managed the Railway Hotel for three years before relocating to the South Coast. During her career in aviation she designed many of own her flying outfits and in 1946 Ivy opened the first fashion boutique, The Exclusive Frock Salon, in Surfers Paradise selling high-fashion garments and later, her own accessories and designs which were extremely popular and outsold the other items she stocked.
Ivy’s own designs appeared in Vogue and her first fashion parade held in the Surfers Paradise Hotel in 1954 attracted national press coverage and a crowd of nearly 1,000 people. Proceeds for the parade went to lifesavers.
In late 1953 Ivy had purchased a small house on the Gold Coast Highway and built two shops and offices on the same site. In 1981, the site became the ANA Hotel and subsequently, the Holiday Inn and Outrigger. In 1960 she sold Ivy Hassard Fashions and opened an exclusive beauty salon known as the Jolie Madame on top of the Blue Arcade and, at a later date, another salon in the Chevron Hotel.
After selling the salons, Ivy returned to fashion in 1968 with her daughter Laurene and visited Kuwait as part of the Australian Trade Fair. Her collection of Gold Coast fashions were showcased in the Middle East, Hong Kong and the USA where they were very well received.
Ivy took part in the Concours d’Elegance on the Gold Coast and won seven awards in ten years. She raised money for surf lifesaving and was an honorary member of the Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club. In 1993 Ivy Hassard Place on the corner of Ferny and Elkhorn Avenues was named in her honour.
She retired in 1983 to pursue her many interests and passed away in 1998.
Sources of information and further reading
- McRobbie, Alexander. 20th Century Gold Coast People, Surfers Paradise: The Arts Centre Press, 2000.
- Mackenzie, C., ‘Ivy’s brilliant career’, The Gold Coast Bulletin, 7 Dec 1993, p. 39.
- “Ivy’s piloted a free spirit.” The Gold Coast Bulletin, 1 Sep 1997, p. 26.
- Chapman, A. “Friends put Ivy Hassard in her place.” The Gold Coast Bulletin, 5 Sept 1993, p. 23.
- “Royal Queensland Aero Club.” The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947) 1 Jun 1936: 15 Edition: LATE CITY CABLE NEWS. Web. 6 Jan 2016. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article182963728
- “Will a Woman Win the Air Race to Adelaide?” The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954) 5 Nov 1936: 21. Web. 6 Jan 2016. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37019797
- “Girls fly over Cathedral Wedding.” Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 – 1954) 13 Jun 1937: 21. Web. 6 Jan 2016. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97886343
- “Girl Pilots.” Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1915 – 1954) 14 Jun 1937: 5. Web. 6 Jan 2016. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article193606726