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Fashioned From Nature

The relationship between fashion and nature is the focus of a beautiful exhibition in London

Woven silk train for an evening dress, France or Britain, c. 1897-1905. Image Vee Speers -® V&A
2017KD8230
2017KB2392
Embroidered silk waistcoat, France, 1780-9. Image Vee Speers -® V&A

A haute couture dress decorated with over 5000 shiny metallic beetle wings, a cape embellished with cockerel feathers, a 18th century gigantic court dress made of Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern silks dyed with South American and European vegetable-based colours and embellished with Bolivian precious metals. An elegant Calvin Klein gown made of a fabric created by recycling plastic bottles, a selection of stunning Michelle Lowe-Holder jewels made from vintage materials, a Tiziano Guardini for Vegea dress made of “grape leather”, an upcycled dress by Christopher Raeburn, a Salvatore Ferragamo ensemble made of a fabric derived from recycled citrus by product.These are just some of the over 300 items on display at the ‘Fashioned from Nature’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Chronologically organised, the exhibition is a fascinating journey on the interactive relationship between nature and fashion over the course of the last 400 years. An unbalanced relationship, one might add. On one hand, nature generously provided, and continues to provide, fashion with a wide range of raw materials, ranging from wool and cotton to mother of pearl and whalebone. On the other hand, fashion ungratefully impacts, and continues to impact, in numerous negative ways a vast variety of natural environments all over the world. By beautifully and effectively highlighting the unfairness of such a relationship, the exhibition explore the idea of a kinder-to-the-planet approach, based on concepts such as recycling and sustainability, from the global fashion system. Generously supported by the European Confederation of Flax and Hemp (CELC) and G-Star RAW, ‘Fashioned from Nature’ is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until the 29th of January.

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