The world is becoming ever-conscious of the impacts our purchases have on the planet, so it is no surprise that the fashion trade is attempting to make amends for being the second most harmful industry to the environment. Therefore, it’s only fitting that this year’s first fashion show at Queen Mary encapsulated the concept of sustainability.
‘Fashioned by nature’ was the theme, and as Francesca Barnes (president of Fashion Society) explained “sustainability is such a prominent issue in the world…we wanted to teach people that sustainable fashion can be something beautiful and easy to make”. This follows a stream of initiatives taken by the Fashion Society to educate people about the issues of fashion-pollution- achieved by holding a series of workshops and discussions to get people talking about the unspoken impacts of fast-fashion.
Transforming St Benet’s Chaplaincy into an eerie runway, the show exhibited the incredible talents of five different designers, all of whom have their own distinctive styles and adaptations of ‘sustainability’. Diversity seemed to be a recurring theme throughout: from the daring designs, to the student models who showcased them; there wasn’t anything we had seen before. Each of the designers were personally selected by the Fashion Society, essentially as they fulfil the main ambition of the show: to display a range of pieces that were ‘resized, recycled or repurposed’. This cohort included recent grads from fashion schools to established designers, each with their own garment-shaped stories told on the catwalk.
Speaking to Louison Webb, sustainability has always been an issue surrounding her creations: “I have always been quite conscious of the environment, and I think that’s where I get my inspiration from- looking at what parts of nature have been affected by global warming”. This was perfectly represented through her dresses, with her all-white collection raising awareness of coral bleaching, with a couture inspired look. These corals are admirably reflected through the use of frill and pleating, while also adding elegance and simplicity to her pieces. The frayed seams modestly add to this, “I wanna show how the beauty of nature, like the coral, is forever deteriorating, so by fraying it shows that my garments are going to be lost one day”.
The show’s finale collection was made by Gemma Hill, who instead was inspired by her surroundings. “Where I am, there’s a lot of natural gardens and flowers. It’s so lovely when I’m walking the dog and seeing all the pretty nature”. Buying her fabrics from a sustainable retailer, she expresses concern about the retail-fashion industry: “with fashion nowadays, everything is very quick. Fast fashion takes away the notion of craft behind things”. Many of her dresses would take more than 20 hours to make, perhaps why they’re dotted with the intricate details that make them so especial.