“A dress only works when a man wants to take it off” Francois Sagan.
Sexual allure and a great frock has caused wars to break out and ensnared kings. Look at Delilah, Blanche Dubois and Helen of Troy; and I bet there was nothing fairtrade or ethical about them. That was the problem with ethical fashion, – until now – it did not quite have the heart-stopping allure of Gucci or McQueen; the X factor was missing.
I agree that no serious fashionista is going to trade a wisp of heavenly silk satin and tulle that makes you feel like a goddess; for a worthy and dull creation in hemp silk or bamboo, unless it makes the heart miss a beat. Great style is about transformation and the desire to seduce or feel special.
Well, I’m a fashionista too, and I would never sacrifice style in order to go green. I just couldn’t do it. I love to express my personality and moods too much. The good news is that the fashion industry is cleaning up its act and changing fast. In fact it has never been easier to be leader rather than a follower in fashion and get dressed with a clear conscience and feel that what you wear might turn heads and make a difference.
In its infancy Ethical Fashion was all about compassion and the guiding principles of Fairtrade; but somehow the equally valid idea of beauty and form was often forgotten, or considered less important. Fortunately, that is changing fast. Brilliant young designers are leaving The Royal College, St Martins and The London College of Fashion with a passion to be extraordinary in a sustainable way and they are starting to have a big impact on the way we buy clothes.
The new wave of designers are completely inspired by the challenges of producing fashion that is both desirable and ethical. The results are truly exciting – from Mark Liu’s Unicorn collection of gorgeously feminine dresses that flutter and move on the body and aim for zero waist – to Junky Styling’s witty and ingenious take on how to transform a once-loved garment or even a fashion mistake into something new and covetable.
Beauty and allure and exquisite, sensual fabrics are firmly on the agenda. Imagine a couture evening dress made from vintage Savile Row suits and embellished with tiny scraps of recycled English lace and pearls that looks and feels as exciting as a piece by Galliano? But where does a girl go to find a dress like that? Does it even exist?
After hours spent exploring the catwalks and exhibition tents at LFW (London Fashion Week) I can tell you that that dress does exist. So let’s get started: I am going to open my little black address book, an A-Z of Ethical Fashion, and share my secrets with you!