Ecoluxe: A clear fashion statement
From alluring bespoke corsets, to Dashing Tweed ensembles, and trendy accessory belts with a hidden twist; there was something for everyone, and most importantly everything came with a clear conscience.
Ecoluxe launched last September, had double the number of designers this time, all ethical and all unique. Brands included Boutique Etique, Outsider, HEMYCA as well as lingerie labels Kiss me Deadly and Velda Lauder . Designers José Hendo, Sanyukta Shrestha and Elena Antoniades also showcased alongside jewellery designers Alexandra Abraham, Leblas and Ute Decker among others.
The green ribbon tying them all together is the heart of their passion. With retail giants churning out cheap garments by the thousands, made on the backs of even cheaper labour, the competition is enormous, even indestructible. But the realities of a consumer throwaway society hasn’t dampened the drive of those few determined to make a change.
José Hendo, a London based designer, showcased her ‘Memories’ 2011 collection made from second-hand men’s ties and old tailored suits. Transforming unwanted clothing into original couture demonstrates not merely ingenuity but pure creativity. Everything is given a new life: old trousers turn to trendy waistcoats, and tops, sashes and evening gowns spring from used silk ties.
‘Memories’ arise – we return to ‘make do and mend’, a forgotten craft, before fashion lost all reason – when people rekindled and cared for their clothes, when wardrobes lasted years not months, and quality outsmarted quantity.
With the simple tie as her paintbrush, Hendo’s distinct pieces fill with pattern, texture and colour: “The fabric has a life of its own; you work with it, blindly…..”
“I want people to feel and play with the fabric”.
Just as the fabric guides her, so does the female form, “yes, I’ve knocked her about” she joked referring to her dressmaking bust.
Her fascination with ties came at an early age when her accountant father wore them daily for work: “I felt I could tell what kind of mood he was in by the tie he wore”. So did her knack for reviving tired-out garments; she would make her own clothes from her mother and sister’s scraps and hand-me-downs.
But her flair doesn’t stop at salvaging discarded things. Her 2007 collection ‘Resonance’ explored the organic and unconventional fabric of barkcloth. Imported from Uganda it is made from the bark of the Natal Fig tree and is one of the oldest African cloths.
Using biodegradable and unusual material is something fellow eco-designer Sanyukta Shrestha also embraces. She has a wide range of surprising fabrics in her elegant millinery and bridal collection: hemp-silk, wild hemp, wild nettle, bamboo, soya, silk, and 100% organic and fair-trade cotton. The entire collection is handmade in the UK. Her design ethos of “feeling good is equally as important as looking good” certainly follows throughout her work.
SANYUKTA SHRESTHA AND MODEL
Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sanyukta Shrestha first charmed a Nepalese fashion world, dressing Miss Nepal, Miss Asia Pacific, and Miss Earth, before moving to the UK. After completing a postgraduate course at The London College of Fashion, she worked with Jenny Peckham and finally launched her own label in 2007.
But Nepal was never far behind, indeed always an intrinsic part of her life and her creativity.
She returned there with the NGO WOREC (Women’s Rehabilitation Centre), working and living alongside Nepalese women weavers. Their impressive skills and the whole experience overwhelmed her: “I felt so touched; I said to myself, I have to come back”.
Shrestha currently uses handmade fabrics produced by women weavers from deprived villages in Nepal. Not only does she promote alternative natural materials but she’s also helped create a bridge between some of the world’s poorest women and some of the most privileged.
Sanyukta Shrestha undoubtedly brings nature, style, and east and west together in the most beautiful of ways.
Caring for our world, valuing skilled workers and supporting local trade are common principles to the designers presenting at Ecoluxe. It is inspirational, revolutionary fashion, which begs the question: If they can do it, why can’t the giants?