Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Style Watch: Maria Mastori

So darn excited that Athenian jewelry designer Maria Mostari just launched her official websiteA favorite of Zandra Rhodes and a regular collaborator with the Filep Motwary, Maria's work has been gracing the finest editorial spreads in Europe for many a season. It will be exciting to learn more about her artisanal collections and upcoming events directly from her site.

Definitely a name to watch (with one's jaw wide open to the floor). Talk about full throttle art/fashion fusion. Read my 2009 post on Maria's work here.
*images courtesy of Maria Mastori

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fashioning Self: Nygårdsanna Nature

Nygårdsanna is a brand from southern Sweden, founded by designer Anna Bengtsson. The brand name comes from Nygården, a farm in Dalarna where Anna Bengtsson’s ancestors lived. The latest collection features a natural, earth-hued palette of linen, cotton, and silk. 

Lookbook photography by Carl Bengtsson / via We Are Selecters

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Organic Bounty

Happy Organic Bounty

I am off to the mountains to soak, steam, reflect, and give thanks.
Wishing you loads of bounty and good cheer this Thanksgiving.

Thank you for all that you do so gracefully.

*above Noa Noa image via Makool Loves You

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blogger Style Now: 'Past Fashion Future' with Writer Emma Grady

Writer Emma Grady looking sustainably stylish and happy
(photo by Tom Olesnevich)

This new feature on Ecco*Eco is something that I have been meaning to initiate for quite some time. I have so many wonderful friends in the sustainable design, art, and fashion blogging community, that I wanted to take a moment to highlight the work that they do and allow them to describe a bit about their blog's name, mission, and overall focus. 

First up on this front is the talented green-girl-about-town, Emma Grady. Her new blog, Past Fashion Future, is a stunning cross section and round up of her writings on 'ethical fashion musings', sustainable style, and exclusive eco-celebrity interviews. Here is a bit of what Emma had to say about the 'past and future of fashion' as we experience it and aim to advance it:

Screen shot from the very informative and chic, Past Fashion Future

The name of my website came from throwing around ideas in my head--thinking about fast fashion, the fashion industry's seasonal cycle, and the future of fashion--and then it clicked: Past Fashion Future. Fashion is at an interesting point right now; it's an exciting time.

I am fascinated with history, and clothing that communicates a story whether it be personal, like an heirloom jewelry piece, or otherwise. I grew up shopping at second-hand stores and, to this day, I value vintage clothing because it is made to last, has great detailing and it is well tailored. It has been great to see mainstream fashion trends like heritage become popular; it is an example of consumers desiring more of a connection with the garments they choose to adorn their bodies.

Emma Grady rocks the vintage trench and heirloom jewels 
(photo by Tom Olesnevich)

The recession and the green movement have both--as current events do--made their mark on the fashion industry. Consumers simply aren't buying like they used to and fashion houses are reconsidering their materials, designs and supply chains. The green movement is really about slowing down and consuming less; to make this possible, products need to be more functional, more efficient, and simply designed better.

From sustainable to mainstream fashion, the past has and will influence the present and future--after all, how can you know where to go if you don't know where you've been? When it comes to seasonal trends, what was popular fifteen, twenty, or one-hundred years can make a comeback at any time--and it does.
 Emma gearing up for some investigative reporting
(photo by Tom Olesnevich)

In terms of sustainable fashion, designers are looking to the past by utilizing ancient weaving techniques, natural dyeing processes--with vegetables, roots, and fruits--and by using their hands; suppliers are looking to plants, like Nepal's nettle plants, to make sustainable fibers; and finally, designers are coming up with innovative ways to consume less, like with AirDye fabrics which use significantly less water than traditional dyes, and do more with wearable tech, i.e., a pair of bio-sensing briefs that track your vitals ) or a little black dress that functions as your cell phone, too. We will continue to have innovations in these areas: where science meets fashion and fashion meets technology. My hope is that the future of fashion will continue to incorporate traditions of the past. 

*photos courtesy of Emma Grady and Tom Olesnevich

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fashioning Self: Wild and Woolly Adaptation

We cannot think about 'fashioning self' without factoring in how we fashion our ideas about the environment. Extreme experimentation is perhaps the best way of arriving at new shores for balance and wild adaptation.

images via 'She Treads The Wilderness' feature on Absorb

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chi Chi Fat Necklace by GRAIN Design

First there was Necklush, then Elly DuFault’s ‘Pick Up Stitch’ chunky knit chains (which I am a proud owner of), and now GRAIN Design has introduced the ‘Chi Chi Fat Necklace’ named after the vibrant and colorful Chichicastenango Market, northwest of Guatemala City. Chi-Chi’s green and fat cotton design was originally inspired by the shape and construction of skeins of thread used for ikat tie-dying, and as part of GRAIN Design’s sustainable design repertoire, is handmade by fair-trade artisans in Guatemala.
Phat Phiber just keeps getting greener and, well, 'phatter', despite the urban slang limitations.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brain Coral, Sea Horses, and Silkworms

Oldest Living Things: brain coral #0210-4501 (2,000 years old; speyside, tobago) photo by Rachel Sussman

Design inspiration comes in many shapes and forms, and The Oldest Living Things just might have something lasting to teach us about permanence, adaptation, and systems solutions.

I have been rather preoccupied with sea horses lately, and after reading several heart-wrenching passages on the bycatch decimation of sea horses in Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Eating Animals, I am wondering what the planet would be like without a species that is "the extreme of the extreme". Add to this that seahorse males are the ones to get pregnant and carry their offspring for six weeks, and one cannot help but to grow concerned that we have only begun to appreciate the complexity and potential that surrounds us.

My favorite sea horse cotton tee

Let us give thanks for the bounty that abounds but also not be afraid of being sensitized to what makes living and creating such a genuine mystery. Fashion is totally dead in the water without an audience that can challenge and mimic our finery. Consider the plight of the silkworm, for example: 'How Much Silk Does A Silk Worm Silk?'

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The 'Make Do Make New' Girls

MAKENEW's smartly curated vintage / thrift clothing and accessory collection - new offerings available bi-monthly
MAKENEW's altered trench coat offers clean lines and chic layering

Gina Michele 'Bones' sweater recycled from a mens' slouchy XL cashmere pull-over

sixer from on Vimeo.

Jill Danyelle's 'Sixer' video where she create a stylishly versatile wardrobe out of Six Items or Less. The girl still has it and then some.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On My Work Table in Sofia: Week 2

'Bulgarian tableau 02': materials include recycled lace, collaged paper, vegetation, moss, seeds, paper cut outs, and collaged photo spread from a 2009 edition of W magazine 

(image created by Abigail Doan/Sofia 2010)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Orishiki Bag: Complex Beauty Made Simple

Behold the 'ORISHIKI clutch bag' by Japanese product designer, Naoki Kawamoto. With a wink to origami ingenuity and furoshiki packaging versatility, this sleek and chic tesserae constructed accessory is a snap to assemble. Simply fold the magnetic tile pieces in place, and complex geometry is transformed into a unique system of futuristic style. 

images via Dezeen / video courtesy of the designer

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Workshop Shop Phenomenon

Annie Novotny's 'Workshop Boutique' in Chicago

I love this new phenomenon of sustainable fashion enterprises having an on-site workshop under the same roof as the designer's artisanal boutique. If we really want to talk about locally made goods being part of the sustainable design equation, it definitely makes sense to give shoppers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the materials and methods that go into each season's collection and custom-made accessories.

Frock Shoppe in Chester, Connecticut features a storefront and behind-the-scenes sewing atelier

For some designers this also means that they do not have to follow the standard fashion week calendar, as they are free to create inventory in-tune with the current season (or un-seasonal temperatures) and also cater to bespoke requests from devoted followers.
Beautiful Soul's vintage kimono textiles are artfully curated and archived for bespoke fashioning (image via Vogue.com UK)
Beautiful Soul's A/W 2010 collection

I have always found that I am more inclined to buy from a designer if I can meaningfully connect with their process and backstory in some real fashion. Are we moving ever closer to a production model where the consumer and the designer work in partnership to fulfill the 'demands' of our fashion 'needs'? I certainly hope so. The more we are attuned to what goes into the design and crafting of our clothing, the more we are likely to carefully consider the entire life cycle of the garments that we opt to make a part of our personal style repertoire.

Another new workshop-shop to watch? Here Today, Here Tomorrow in the up-and-coming Dalston area in London. 

30a Balls Pond Road | Dalston | N1 4AU
t: 02035181556

Monday, November 8, 2010

JoAnn Berman's 'Ultra-Imaginative' New Shop

Speaking of innovative digital printing and a transporting S/S 2011 collection, do not miss JoAnn Berman's new online shop. Hint hint, girls: the one-of-a-kind platform shoes and boots are radically out of this world. JoJo is an artist through and through. Love this woman.
images courtesy of JoAnn Berman

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mary Katrantzou Wins Swiss Textiles Award 2010

Congratulations to supremely talented Greek fashion designer, Mary Katrantzoufor receiving the Swiss Textiles Award for 2010. Katrantzou wowed spectators with these digitally printed textile creations during London Fashion Week in September. The designer 'recycled' these prints from 70's inspired interiors featured in design and architecture magazines  For her S/S 2011 collection Katranzou stated that she wanted to "put the room on the woman, rather than the woman in the room." 

Read more on Vogue.com UK / images via Style.com

Friday, November 5, 2010

Natural Dyes in Fashion: We Have Come A Long Way Baby

Tinctory's Fall Necklace / silk naturally dyed with fallen autumn leaves

It is ironic that during my childhood I used to turn a bit red in the face when my mother had huge vats of natural dyes brewing in the kitchen. What was I to say to friends who were visiting for a playdate while my mother practiced her alchemy and what appeared to be witchcraft on our country kitchen stove?

Canadian textile artist Mackenzie Frere's plant-dyed yarns for weaving

'Cochineal Plantation' illustration via Philosophy of Science Portal

My mother was also occasionally receiving little packets of cochineal bugs via rural post, and we often stopped the car on the way home from the grocery store to pick seemingly useless roadside weeds. Yes, the thought did cross my mind, “Why couldn’t my mother just be normal and bake layer cakes and shop at the mall.”
Bodkin's A/W09 cotton/jersey dress hand-dyed with the above cornucopia of plant-based dyes

Contemporary eco fashion is definitely celebrating an upswing of interest in natural dyes and plant-based (kitchen) alchemy. Little did I know that several decades ago, my crafty mother was on to something rather timeless and chic. The ancients, of course, utilized natural dyes as an expression of status and luxury, but modern life is indisputably linked to working outside of the home and commuting great distances, not steeping garments in one's own garden clippings and brews. Stop. Think again. We are on a fast-track to slow design goodness these days.

India Flint 'eco-dye' textiles (image via Sparrow Salvage)

There has been a lot of great press recently featuring natural dyes in fashion, interior design, and the delectable crossover with the slow food movement. Sasha Duerr Fossel of The Permacouture Institute has artfully led us down this weedy and seedy path, while India Flint has been an 'eco dye' advocate before it became tried in hue, so to speak. 
Jai's S/S 2011 plant and kitchen-based natural dye R-T-W designs (photo: Lou Rouse/via Treehugger)

It is no coincidence, perhaps, that at a time when we keep inching our design expectations for sustainable fashion forward, we are also genuinely hungry for those things that anchor us to the domestically familiar and the sensory-imbued.

'Harvest Dye Workshop' at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn

We have come a long way, Mom, 'Baby', as lovers of process and those memories that bring us gently home again, even if we are far, far away from the proverbial Kansas.

Royally Vintage

Velvet vintage clutch with gold embroidery detailing and patterning, made by Jagat Narain and Sons in New Delhi
~ available at Eco Citizen in San Francisco and online ~