celebrating earth day with sustainable fashion’s greenest moments

We’re looking back on our favourite eco-memories and exploring how fashion is a valuable platform for discussing big issues.

by Hannah Butterworth
22 April 2016, 3:00am

Image via Patrick Blanc

Happy Earth Day! April 24 is a time for reflecting on the beauty of our planet, but also taking stock on the mark we're leaving on it. Fashion has long served as a vibrant and accessible platform to talk about environmental issues: from measuring the impact of our online shopping habits to investigating the faux vs real leather debate and calling on big names to start big conversations.

In celebration of our planet today we're looking back on some of fashion's most beautiful nature inspired moments. Whether it's exploring sustainability in design, or using Mother Nature as the couturière herself, green is undeniably the new black. 

Jean Paul Gaultier and La Robe Végétale
For SS 2002, Jean Paul Gaultier commissioned French botanist, Patrick Blanc, to create La Robe Végétale. Using living plants, together they constructed a bridal dress fit for a queen—or maybe Dionysus, god of wine, revelry, vegetation, and pleasure. Presumably, Gaultier forgoes the environmental impacts of dry-cleaning because all this garment needs is a little sunshine and some H20 to maintain its presence in floral couture. 

Image via Twitter

Erdem's Green Carpet Collection
Livia Firth is the creative director of Eco-Age, the consultancy agency behind the Green Carpet Challenge—an initiative which encourages celebrities to wear eco-outfits on the red carpet. Last year she invited floral fans Erdem to participate in their challenge for London Fashion Week 2015. The result of their collaboration was a 12-piece collection made entirely from the remaining lace from previous garments, silks produced by organically farmed worms and fabrics made from recycled fibres and plastic bottles. At the launch Livia commented, "it's a perfect marriage of ethics and aesthetics." Previous challenge participants include Stella McCartneyChristopher KaneGucciVictoria BeckhamChristopher Bailey and Roland Mouret, so Erdem's eco efforts place them in considerable good company.

Image via Instagram

Chanel's SS16 Presentation
In this year's Spring/Summer 2016 couture show, Karl Lagerfeld invited patrons into Chanel's eco dream at Paris Fashion Week. The brand commissioned a pavilion of recycled plywood framed by real grass, trees and swarms of insects casually chilling near Cara Delevigne and her dog during the show. Models wore sling back sandals made from environmentally friendly cork. Tiny pieces of wood were wove into the garments and a bee served as the key motif. All remaining materials were recycled or composted after the show. As Lagerfeld noted, "sustainability is part of an expression of our times."

Image via Twitter

Raf Simon's Floral Dreams
Last October, Christian Dior's SS16 presentation at Paris Fashion Week came alive under the creative direction of Raf Simons. Using 300,000 purple delphiniums, the east end courtyard of the Lourve became home to the 59-foot-high mountain, constructed for a weekend of botanical opulence. This was the second time the then-creative director requested trucks and trucks flowers for his presentations. For his debut AW12 Couture show Raf decorated five rooms of a Parisian mansion with an estimated one million flowers. The blooms were in reference to Christian Dior's "Flower Woman", and while we're not sure it was exactly a sustainable effort it was undoubtedly a love letter to the natural world.  

Photography Jason Lloyd Evans

Christopher Raeburn and Up-Cycling
While many of the examples on this list have been beautiful one-off demonstrations, Christopher Raeburn is committed to being London's sustainability superhero. He's built a reputation on re-appropriating discarded military fabrics found across Europe. Who could forget his transformation of decommissioned parachutes into streetwear?

Stella McCartney's Whole Life
You can't talk about a commitment to sustainable fashion without mentioning Ms McCartney's tireless work to prove luxury fashion doesn't need to make nature pay. Her list of accomplishments is perhaps to lengthy to reel off, so we'll direct you to her recent chat with Broadly to catch you up instead.


Text Hannah Butterworth
Lede Photography Jason Lloyd Evans

stella mccartney
Jean Paul Gaultier
Raf Simons
Livia Firth
Christopher Raeburn