Something borrowed

Earth Day seems appropriate to talk about something borrowed. The trousers covering my tush and blouse on my back [leased from Laura Ironside] and of course the earth are all borrowed. Fashion is just one piece of the sustainable development pie, but today also marks the start of Fashion Revolution Week when our shared question #WhoMadeMyClothes is heard the loudest.  What I like about the few times I’ve rented my clothes is the respect you give them. Perhaps we should be treating everything in our wardrobes like they’re borrowed because what they could be is resources for tomorrow. 

I am wearing the Knight drape top and Hero high-waisted trousers, which can be leased from Laura Ironside. My vintage Easter bonnet is by Kokin, the milliner that made hats for the ’90s classic Clueless that I found at Heavens Bazaar, an awesome shop in Bath for vintage and pre-loved designer pieces.

I got my fairy Earth Day earrings yonks ago from Snoopers Paradise in Brighton. If your eyes are on the next bank holidays then Bath and Brighton are worth a visit.

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman

“we could be the ones to change it all” – Sustainable steps at London Fashion Week

Paolo Carzana, the boy behind this quote and the collection below titled The Boy You Stole was one emerging talent presented in the season that put sustainability top of mind at LFW.  

The British Fashion Council’s announcement that London Fashion Week would be entirely fur-free was just one step, but caring for animals can quickly lead to more environmental awareness if fashion graduate Paolo Carzana’s vegan journey is anything to go by.  At first Paolo went vegan becasue of caring for animals, but now he does it for the environment too and works with planet-friendly fabrics like Pinatex. There is a myriad of aspects in the production of both real leather and leather alternatives that can cause harm to animals, people and the environment, but Pinatex (a textile made from reclaimed pineapple leaves that would otherwise be wasted) arguably ticks multiple sustainability choices at once.  

Beneath the vegan fabrics and vegetable dyes, Paolo’s graduate collection (pictured below) was also a comment that the government controls us like puppets with models swamped by clothes and freaky figures that shadowed over them on the catwalk.

Multiple tabs with Celine reviews from Paris Fashion Week were shadowing over this post as I tried to focus on writing about my delights from LFW… Hedi Slimane just showed his first collection – after stepping into Phoebe Philo’s furry sandals – as Artistic Director of the French fashion house Celine.  I allowed myself to digress because it turns out Hedi Slimane and the next designer that caught my eye in London both count Lady Gaga among their fans…

Cassandra Verity Green manipulated plastic waste to create bags that explore early existence with the digital world to comment on today’s excess and create future artefacts in handbags designed to be treasured.

The question on many lips right now is what did Hedi’s Celine give us to treasure? See the collection on NOW Fashion to decide for yourself.

He rebelled against the current move towards inclusiveness and cast very young, mainly white models, yet opened up the new menswear line to women with sizes that will cater to their bodies too. It is impossible to ignore Hedi’s power to make big changes with a CV that notes transforming the image of male sex appeal through skinny tailoring at Dior Homme almost 20 years ago to the recent shift in Saint Laurent.  But right now, with such a deviation from feminist design it is hard to appreciate the change at Celine as it feels like a step backward.  

On a positive note –  here are some other favourites under London Fashion Week’s Positive Fashion initiative that are definitely pushing the path for change forward. 

Paradise Row 

E.L.V Denim

Davy J 

Wires  

Last fashion week I was doing my Six Items Challenge for Labour Behind the Label so this time I was free to step out in anything. Above, wearing a vintage Bay Trading dress and vintage Daks jacket, ’80s Persol glasses from Spex in the City, boots from my days working at Gucci & bag by Muuñ.

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Designing a happy wardrobe

I didn’t see myself squeezing into another capsule challenge so soon – having spent 6 of the coldest weeks in just 6 items of clothes for Labour Behind the Label at the start of the year – but this was too good to resist… 10 items, 10 days, easy right? Ah, but this time the count includes shoes. And this challenge calls for the most out there, fun, fashiony pieces, hence the name #GlamCapsule to show that our wildest eco-glitter filled dream where fashion and sustainability hold hands and skip into the sunset can be a reality. 

Designed to prove that sustainable fashion doesn’t just do neutrals, the Glam Capsule is the brainchild of fellow Ethical Writers & CreativesElizabeth L. Cline and Benita Robledo.

I’ve never been a capsule wardrobe kinda woman because a career in fashion has given me A LOT of clothes, but I am eager to make my wardrobe sustainable and one way of doing that is by giving more life to the things I already own. 

So at the start of #zerowasteweek, here’s to reuse and designing happy wardrobes by wearing all the beautiful things we usually save for best. Wear, don’t waste and put your clothes and accessories somewhere you can see them [like in this ex museum display cabinet below].

And if you reaaaallly want something happy and new [or new for you], here’s some reclaimed and ethical ideas to get those fashion juices flowing…

Slip dress made from upcycled vintage silks We-Resonate

Jacket made from surplus furniture fabric Noumenon

Rose gold plated recycled silver Millie Hoops Gung Ho x Chalk Designs      [£5 from every purchase goes to Friends of the Earth]

Vegan snake Lulu boots Beyond Skin

Reclaimed Museum display cabinet Retrouvius

Above, I am wearing an ’80s dress from Revivals 42 St Peter’s St, Canterbury, UK, Paul Andrew shoes, ’60s bag from Wolf & Gypsy Vintage and sunglasses from Klasik

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of the brands featured

 

 

Guilt Tripping

Having recently calculated that the renovation of my flat is 4x more sustainable than one planet living, I could be feeling smug, but with two flights in the pipeline next month I am less carbon footprint proud.  Let me explain…

One Planet Living is a framework created by Bioregional to help people understand their environmental impacts and enable us to do something about it. They calculated that we’re currently consuming resources and polluting the planet at a level of 40% higher than the earth can sustain.  

During my Grand Designs Live talk on sustainable interiors, presenter Kevin McCloud surprised the audience stating that “if everyone consumed as much as the average North American, we would need five planets to support us.”  

I glared at my American husband – oblivious – sweetly snapping my 45 minutes of fame, but I need not have been so quick to judge as the average western European consumes a similarly shocking amount, and even though my renovation was good, I am guilt tripping before we’ve even left London. 

Life and love requires us to travel sometimes.  Now that I’m cohabiting with my Californian husband I’ve been flying a lot less, but last year’s London summer lacked sun so we were inspired to book Seville, which will be followed by a business trip to Israel.  At least my husband is travelling to Jerusalem to advance the message about human rights in the digital realm – so his conscience is cleaner than mine.

This post doesn’t tie itself into a sustainably packaged, non air cargo delivered answer, I just wanted to acknowledge where I am.  There are of course ways I’ll reduce my environmental impact whilst travelling by walking lots, opting for locally purified water in recyclable glass bottles and ditching familiar flavours for restaurants with locally sourced ingredients.  What a sacrifice.  I’ll also be able to do the wild thing and actually wear my summer clothes, which Londoners rarely get to do. 

Until we sign-up to a life in nothing but bamboo Birdsong knickers, increasing the average number of times we wear things is the most direct way to increase value and reduce waste in our wardrobes.

And of course, the weather in London has been lovely lately.

Wearing eco-hot Jumpsuit by COSSAC worn with a Pachacuti hat from Ethical Collection, Abacá bag from Tidy Street general store [with Noumenon vegan pouch inside] and rope sandals by Nomadic State of Mind

Above, Birdsong bamboo knickers in collaboration with Clio Peppiatt

Californian album artwork The Grateful Dead

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Little White Dress

It seems appropriate to end my Six Items Challenge for Labour Behind the Label in the little white dress I started in.  I wore my white Reformation dress to celebrate our two year wedding anniversary and it got me thinking…

I have too many clothes and although I am on a mission to make my wardrobe more sustainable, I still face fashion urges to buy something new.   Even if it is beautiful and ethically made in organic cotton, I still need to learn that less is more.  What I am saying is that I am not holier than thou.  Weirdly though, the one time that arguably justifies a shopping trip (one’s wedding) I actually wore a dress I had owned for years.

It wasn’t from a previous marriage (not mine anyway) or a sample sale where all sorts of this is too good to resist scenarios run through your mind – strangely it was a student loan purchase for my photography degree.  Nine years later, wise enough to recognise love at first sight kind of craziness and the value of a 1960s Courreges hanging in my wardrobe, I couldn’t get married in anything else.

One of my takeaways from the challenge is to think of buying clothes like choosing a life partner.  Find out what they’re made of and ask yourself if you’re excited by the prospect of being seen with them years down the line.

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Seeking Victorian house with sustainable luxury label VIMPELOVA

Having spent a few days working away in Brighton – the town where I grew up – talk turned to where I might ultimately set-up home if my husband and I decide we have out-grown our little garden flat barely made for two.

Back home in London, I dropped-off my luggage to travel east to see the new collection by sustainable luxury label VIMPELOVA.  The event took place in a Victorian family home where designer, Veronika Vimpelova lives and works.  Mentally setting-up home and filling my wardrobe with Veronika’s chic pieces made of organic linen, organic cotton and peace silk, the period setting perfectly complimented traditional pleating and cording techniques.

I haven’t contemplated a crop-top for years, but VIMPELOVA nails them with sophisticated examples like this made of peace silk.

It’s surprising what shopping in a relaxed environment can do for your confidence.  I bought this crop-top in traditional  hand-block printed, hand-dyed Czech Indigo (Veronika is originally from the Czech Republic).

This piece is from Veronika’s first collection, which is available to shop on online.  You can also rent some pieces from Wear the Walk.

The new VIMPELOVA collection, which includes pieces for women and men is available to preview and pre-order from your own home now.

If you’re curious to know more, pay a visit to @vimpelova to hear about future events.

VIMPELOVA

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Two weeks in

Two weeks into six weeks wearing the same six items of clothes, I am tongue twisting and definitely compensating with shoes.

On a side note, these 1940s pigeon holes make perfect shoe storage   (complete with drawn-on letters, this piece was reclaimed from the post room at Kings Cross Station).

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

A Model Feminist – Interview with Paulina Porizkova

Straight talking feminist, and star in the #MeToo incarnation of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, model, actress and author, Paulina Porizkova will return to London for the first time in 35 years to walk at London Fashion Week for emerging ethical designer Jiri Kalfar. 

Czech-born Swedish supermodel, Porizkova found status in the 1980s from swimsuit front covers of Sports Illustrated to fronting campaigns for Estée Lauder.  Wearing designs by fellow Czech Jiri Kalfar in The National Arts Club in New York City – one of Porizkova’s favourite haunts, she says it wasn’t until moving to America that she found the need to assert her status as a feminist.  A status she strongly defends to any who say you can’t be both super feminist and supermodel.

“I would give them a very polite middle finger. Those people are the ones who apparently believe that a woman has no right to make choices with her body (but of course, men do and always have), and that if she uses her looks, she incites desire in men, and thus she is responsible for whatever happens to her.”

Porizkova started modelling at fifteen.  At the time she felt protected by what she calls “Swedish Woman Armor.” In Sweden, she learnt her body belonged to her and her choices were her own.

“With this attitude, I came into a business of rampant sexual abuse and just figured all those people were assholes. I never felt like a victim, because I was certain my choices were my own.  And I was very lucky never to have met Harvey Weinstein.”

Porizkova described her transition through cultural notions and attitudes to women as she moved from Czechoslovakia in the sixties and seventies to Sweden, France and finally America in her opinion piece “America Made Me a Feminist” published by The New York Times last year.  In it, she also described her former gynaecologist in the US, examining her as though she were a Victorian maiden “who’d rather not know” where all her bits were.  Little did she know that her reply to Jiri Kalfar’s direct message on Instagram would fashion her a Victorian again, although this time more Victorian queen than maiden in the designer’s upcoming Autumn Winter 2018 collection inspired by Queen Victoria.

It was during the reign of George V, Queen Victoria’s grandson when (some) British women won the right to vote.  This February marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, where women over the age of 30, who either owned property themselves or through marriage were given the right to vote.   This was a big step forward for the suffragette movement,  despite only benefiting land-owning women considered middle-aged for the time, and that the same act dropped the voting age for men from 30 to 21.  One could argue that suffragettes do not sit comfortably in an interview with a supermodel that just posed nude for Sports Illustrated, but the fact that a magazine designed for the male gaze is attempting to question attitudes to women is telling of the #TimesUp trending times.  Porizkova voices her part in the 2018 Swimsuit Issue released this week, which features In Her Own Words  – a black and white shoot of models wearing nothing but words.

“I’d like to mention that in our society nudity is like a great big stop sign. It’s shocking to see a naked woman. If it’s not a flat-out coy, sexy, Penthouse or Playboy type thing then nudity is considered shocking. I wanted to use that shock to speak: to say the words I thought were important. My nudity forces you to stop for a moment, and that moment is long enough to read what I consider important.”

A fan of Great Britain’s ruling queens, Porizkova believes that in some ways the UK is ahead of the US when it comes to women’s empowerment.

“In the US, the hypocrisy of “you can do anything” that turns into “except this” is still rampant, and needs all the help anyone with a voice can give.”

Porizkova recently caught the headlines for saying sexual harassment was such an ingrained part of the business when she started, it was viewed as a “compliment.” Hindsight is a wonderful thing, although Queen Victoria was the Head of State, she held traditional views and opposed giving women the right to vote, but no doubt she would be pleased with what women have accomplished. One could say that like Queen Victoria, the stage was already set for Porizkova.

“It never dawned on me then that I was somehow complicit. It was obvious the stage had been set long ago to make little men feel big. In modelling, as in entertainment and athletics, careers start young and end young. When you are taught the rules as a child, you rarely question them. And the rules have always been:  Pretty women are more valuable women.”

100 years from now, how would Porizkova like to be remembered?

“I would love to be a part of this movement that I believe has already started, the one that empowers women to believe in their powers, their choices, their value being equal to those of a man.”

Like 100 years ago, middle-aged women are winning and in this case walking on the catwalk. At 52, Porizkova asks and why not people in “their Sixties? Seventies? Eighties? Ageism is something that still needs a lot of attention. Our society tells us we women are no longer all that valuable once our looks change from fresh to mature, although I believe we really come into our powers in our forties.”

I am old
and I am new
I am first
and I am last

reads the collection notes for Jiri Kalfar’s Autumn Winter 2018 collection.  It wasn’t the designer’s ethical approach that caught Paulina’s attention first.

“His designs are such that I would have overlooked his ethics (to a point, of course), but that he is as dedicated to the ethics of his manufacturing and making the world a better place makes me not just want to wear his clothing, it makes me want to be his friend.”

Paulina Porizkova will close the Jiri Kalfar show at London Fashion Week.

©Photographs of Paulina Porizkova in The National Arts Club courtesy of Jiri Kalfar