Eco Fashion (Or Not), Over 250 Years

I’m finally playing catch-up after returning to Paris from New York. One of my first stops back in New York happened to be a trip down to my alma mater, FIT, for their latest museum exhibit titled Eco-Fashion: Going Green. I attended a talk & tour of the exhibit with co-curator Colleen Hill who addressed six major themes explored in the eco-fashion movement. With over 100 garments on display from 1750-Present, the themes touched on: the repurposing and recycling of materials; material origins; textile dying and production; quality of craftsmanship; labor practices and the treatment of animals.

But wait, eco-fashion from the 1750s? We’ve been talking about eco and green heavily for less than 5 years, so 250 years ago seems like a stretch, does it not? I mean this is a museum exhibit so there’s got to be some history involved, but the span of eco-fashion over 250 years just seemed a bit too vast at first. Not so! The exhibit was in fact very well put together and dated back to 250 years ago for a reason. Not everything in the exhibit was eco-minded, in fact one dress was dyed with arsenic – indeed toxic to the wearer, a far stretch from eco. There were examples of repurposed garments, such as a 1935 man’s dressing gown made from a patchwork quilt, and 1990s repurposed Margiela items like a sweater made of socks. Of course the exhibit also touched upon some contemporary eco pioneers like Edun, as well as other designers that wouldn’t necessarily be considered eco, but employ sustainable practices. In the end, I found the garments from the past – eco or not – to be most relevant, in realizing what we’ve come from to make way for the new norm of eco-fashion today.

1821 roller-printed cotton dress, 1830 jacquard-woven silk dress

1865, silk faille and chenille

1934, Lucien Lelong, cellophane cape; 1935, man's dressing gown from patchwork quilt

1990s Martin Margiela repurposed jacket, sweater; Xuly.Bët recycled dress

1994, Xuly-Bët, recycled sweater dress

2007, EDUN, organic Tunisian denim

2008, Carlos Miele

2009, John Patrick, organic cotton shirt and jumper

2009, Stella McCartney, organic wool sweater dress and hemp burlap dress

2010, Bodkin, unbleached organic wool

2010, Ciel, Lyocell dress; Enamore, silk and vintage cotton lingerie

2010, Costello Tagliapietra, polyester peau de soie

2010, FIN, organic bamboo satin

This entry was published on July 6, 2010 at 6:34 PM and is filed under Brands, Designers, Eco, Exhibits. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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