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London | Is fashion sustainable? ‘Fashioned from Nature’ at the V&A Museum

By FEDERICA LUSIARDI - January 22, 2018

V&A-fashion-from-nature-greenpeace-detox-catwalk

From 21 April 2018, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London presents ‘Fashioned from Nature’, a depiction of the relationship between fashion and nature since the 17th century.

cover image: Greenpeace Detox Catwalk in Bandung © Greenpeace/Hati Kecil Visuals

The exhibition focuses on how, in costume history, nature has always been a source of inspiration through symbolic and aesthetic influences which have been translated into clothing colors and shapes, and into accessories and fabric patterns inspired by the world of plants and animals. Yet, the global mass production of clothing and a constantly-growing demand of raw materials for fabric manufacturing are having an increasingly serious impact on the environment. Therefore, the exhibition at the V&A also presents the theme of sustainability in fashion design, inviting the fashion industry to investigate novel strategies and techniques, for example by experimenting innovative materials as an alternative to traditional ones.

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Pair of earrings, about 1875. Museum no. AP.258-1875. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

V&A-fashioned-from-nature-Richard-James-suit

Richard James, Suit,1998, England. Museum no. T.111:1&2-2012. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London .

Fashioned from Nature demonstrates that fashion could be creative and sustainable at the same time; a message also supported by organization such as ‘Fashion Revolution’, and show business figures like Emma Watson who, at the Met Gala 2016, wore a dress by Calvin Klein made from recycled plastic bottles as part of the ‘Green Carpet Challenge‘, an initiative aimed to combine glamour and sustainability. Other environmental-conscious designs on exhibition include menswear and womenswear by Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, and Christopher Raeburn among others.

V&A-fashioned-from-nature-grape-dress-Vegea-and-Calvin-Klein

Left: Grape dress made with Vegea, a leather alternative made from grape waste © Vegea
Right: Calvin Klein, Green Carpet Challenge, dress worn by Emma Waston to the MET Gala 2016. © Matt Baron/REX/ Shutterstock 

The exhibition presents both materials aimed to reduce the impact of fashion industry on the environment, and innovative designs such as a dress made from plant roots by Dutch artist Diana Scherer, who used seeds, soil and water to “shape” root systems into a fabric-like material; a bio-luminescent dress made from genetically modified silk created by Sputniko!, the MIT Lab and the Soth Korean National Institute of Agricultural Science (NIAS); and synthetic spider silk tunic and pants created by Bolt Threads for Stella McCartney.

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Diana Scherer, study, dress made of plant roots, Photo Diana Scherer, via https://hetnieuweinstituut.nl/en

Fashioned from Nature
[temporary exhibition]
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
21 April 2018  / 27 Jan 2019

Images courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museumhttps://www.vam.ac.uk/

VA-fashioned-from-nature-t-shirt-greenpeace

T-shirt designed by Greenpeace, 1990s, England. Museum no. T.602-1997. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


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