Friday, March 30, 2012

Off The Grid Runway: Gossamer Threads

Steven OO via Project Artisan
Spider web strands via RX Wildlife
Alba 01 (site-specific installation in Italy) by Abigail Doan
Loup Charmant Spring/Summer 2012
'Loom-Hyperbolic' by Barkow Leibinger Architects
image courtesy of the European Linen and Hemp Community
image courtesy of landlessness on Tumblr
image courtesy of Unusual Young on Tumblr

I am keeping things light as the weekend approaches – dreaming of gossamer threads and luminescent, low impact solutions. Never underestimate the power of the delicate and weightless.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Alder Spring/Summer 2012 Collection

'Mexico City Vest' by Alder
(textiles sourced in Mexico/garment made in the USA)
'Mexico City Vest' by Alder (right detail)
'Mexico City Vest' by Alder (back detail)
'Mexico City Dress' by Alder 
(textiles sourced in Mexico/garment made in the USA)
'Mexico City Dress' by Alder  (detail)

I love the electric 'prepster' vibe of this collaborative clothing line created by Alder's David J. Krause and Nina Zilka. Alder's latest Spring/Summer 2012 collection features dead stock fabric unearthed during a trip to Mexico City. The Brooklyn-based design duo describes the SS12 colorful mix as 'preppy classic meets the bright neon eccentricity of Mexico City'.

David J. Krause and Nina Zilka of Alder
(photo by Zenith Richards for Time Out New York)

We love that Alder is also a member of the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation in Brooklyn's Navy Yard. They shared the following details about their mission, materials, and methods:

"At Alder, we believe a garment should not only be aesthetically interesting, but also have the quality, craftsmanship and attention-to-detail that our customer deserve. Fashion is inherently about waste, and it’s important to us to minimize our waste and make responsible decisions about our fabric and manufacturing choices. Alder manufactures all of our pieces out of the NYC Garment Center and tries to source locally and sustainably whenever possible."

Shop the collection here. Follow Alder on Facebook for the latest news.

Hair: Julia Reinhard
Make up: Alder Studio
Photography: Alder Studio
Jewelry: Carrie Bilbo

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wrapped Bangle Bracelets by Dyan Ashby

I loved these wrapped bangle bracelets by Dyan Ashby – currently available at Fibershed Marketplace. Ingredients include locally grown organic cotton and a mixture of seasonally foraged natural dyes. Even sweeter, "10% of each sale will be donated toward building a solar-powered farm based mill in Northern California."
Ashby's wrapped bangle bracelets come in a set of three.

Learn more about Fibershed here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PARTIMI Autumn/Winter 2012 North End Collection

PARTIMI AW 2012 'North End' Collection

London-based fashion label, PARTIMI by Eleanor Dorrien-Smith, was hands down one of my favorite presentations during Paris Fashion Week earlier this month. Please read why in my review for The WILD Magazine's fashion column. An excerpt appears below: 

"Dorrien-Smith works with select fabrics and textiles that explore innovation in sustainable and/or ethical design production: digitally-printed silks, organic wools, modals, milk fibers, and luxurious cashmere. Creating fashion collections with minimal environmental impact is key to the long-term strategy that this designer adopted early on. Her emphasis on place making and narrative has 'strong influences thanks to both sides of her family: from a wonderfully eccentric ecology-based 60’s hippy sensibility to a more considered design approach grounded in architecture and new urbanism.' All of PARTIMI’s dresses, skirts, and accessories illustrate this holistic and grounded approach to wearable art married with smart, efficient design."

Photos courtesy of the designer and photographer Nicole Maria Winkler.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Courtney Cedarholm's Chainlink Necklace Pattern

We love Courtney Cedarholm's knitwear as well as her design work with Awamaki Lab, but her latest enterprise to create DIY knitwear patterns epitomizes just how cool she really is. Now available on for $3.50 US dollars, the 'Chainlink Necklace' pattern is a great way to get creative with recycled fiber or luxurious hand-spun of your own choosing. 

Courtney shared the following details: 

"This is a necklace using a larger gauge jewelry chain edging to give weight and add drape to the knit piece for a look that is not your average knit jewelry. You can use any weight yarn from lace to sport, and it is a great way to use up extra yarn from another project, recycled yarn from something else, or buy that one beautiful skein of luxury yarn you’ve had your eye on. The pattern is written out with a chart showing where to attach the chain."

The Chainlink Necklace pattern is available here.

(all images courtesy of Courtney Cedarholm)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cruelty Free Friday: Matt & Nat Grass Green Tote

As some one who has a birthday on Saint Patrick's Day, I have been sporting the green, living and breathing the green, and serving as an advocate for green since my earliest days. Green is a rejuvenating hue, but these days one needs to delve even deeper to experience the charm of designs that factor in all sides of the ethical equation. This Matt & Nat Lennox 'grass' vegan tote available at Cow Jones Industrials seems to embody the best qualities of green as an agent of change. Totally leather-free with 100% recycled nylon lining, it sends a striking message that vegan style is both chic and cruelty-free not to mention eternally gorgeous. 

See more Matt & Nat products available at Cow Jones Industrials here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

AFIA Spring/Summer 2012 Ready to Wear Collection

There is no doubt that fair trade fashion label, AFIA has set a new standard for textile sourcing and artisan/designer collaborations. Following their successful 2011 debut, AFIA proudly announces its Spring/Summer 2012 women’s ready-to-wear offerings. By fusing the vibrant, traditional textiles of West Africa with classic American trends, AFIA’s latest collection embodies their now signature 'urban indigenous' aesthetic. 

Inspired by an exploratory trip to Ghana, designer Meghan Sebold returns to Africa for the creation of each collection to handpick fabric from floor to ceiling stacks of technicolor textiles in the busy markets of Accra. 

The nature of this unique sourcing process makes each collection personal and forever limited-edition. The colors, patterns, and motifs used in West African textiles are a visual representation of local history, proverbs, moral values, and social codes.

I asked Meghan Sebold, stylist Kestrel Jenkins, and eco-model Ariel Clay about the inspiration and process behind this most recent look book, and they shared the following: 

Meghan described their unique relationship with the artisans and sewers in Ghana: "I visited the cooperative I worked with last year (Dzidefo) to tell them I'd be returning in March for production. Business has been slow in their small village, so they were thrilled. We also will be stopping by a cooperative outside Cape Coast to visit the cooperative where Monica Wontoroski-Zaidman worked on her line, MonTree. Hopefully we will do a custom piece with them. We'll also be working with a facility right in Accra so we can scale up production. The workers are on salary business – a stability basically unheard of in Ghana. Regardless of whether orders are coming in, everyone still gets paid."

The AFIA team joins forces to redefine African textile chic

Kestrel Jenkins, Stylist for Afia's SS12 look book and Founder of Hoverstyle:

"Some of my inspirational sources for the styling of Afia's latest lookbook were Mara Hoffman's incredible warm weather aesthetic, mixed with the undeniably hot neon runway trend. Pairing such gorgeous prints with a solid neon color, only enhances the prints and really allows your eye to see their true beauty. For me, the somewhat blown out look of the neon additions, only amplifies the designs and vibrant colors which are statement to Afia's collections."

Stylist and Writer, Kestrel Jenkins of MakeFashionFair and Hoverstyle

"For me, styling plays a key role in moving the ethical/sustainable fashion movement forward. In order to gain access to mainstream press, buyers, and consumers, brands need to have an on-point look for their promotional materials. That is what places them side-by-side next to the mainstream designers and labels. Once they have that place of access, brands like Afia undoubtedly have an edge, based on their incredible backstory. With well thought-out styling and marketing, the newest, freshest ethical brands will make it into this elevated spotlight."

Ariel Clay, fair trade advocate, eco-model, blogger, and retail specialist: 

"Wearing fair trade or sustainable clothing makes me feel not only that I am acting on my beliefs, but that I am also communicating a stronger message. When someone complements me on a clothing item that I am wearing that is fair trade, I immediately get to launch into the story behind the garment. It gives me a chance to share what is special and unique about the piece."

"When I wear conventionally-made clothing, I always feel a bit of regret and shame, that I should have tried harder to find the eco-alternative or should have resisted the temptation just to buy something because it was cute, pretty, or convenient. Changing my consumer habits has been challenging, but it is so worth it when I can be a point of education and take pride in the life-cycle of my clothes."

Learn more about the AFIA team of Meghan Sebold and Elizabeth Cloyd.

Shop AFIA online here. Look book photography by Evan Felts

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ariel Clay Reports on Laura Siegel Fall/Winter 2012

Laura Siegel F/W12 'Dreams Resurrected' Collection

Laura Siegel's 'Dreams Resurrected' is only the designer's second collection, but it is obvious from her innovative melding of natural materials and traditional textile techniques, that she has an eye for combining modern tailoring with centuries-old craft handwork. Siegel's passion for exotic travel, her deep love of nature, and her affinity for indigenous cultures globally has greatly influenced the artistry of these one-of-a-kind layering pieces.

Mind, body, and soul are entwined in eco-luxe garments that speak to the elements of ancient craftsmanship – resulting in a rich tapestry of cultures and varied landscape expressions. A  palette of deep black, soft grays, and alchemical purples conjure both shadows and light.

Using a combination of traditional fiber techniques, Siegel effortlessly combines multiple elements to create sculptural yet functional clothing. Her collaboration with textile artisans in India and hand-knitters in Bolivia has yielded expressive knits, relaxed cotton blend harem pants, shibori and tie-dyed silks, chicly draped dresses, and textured tasseled scarves. Siegel's work the Khatri family in the Kutch district of Western India to create 'Ajrakh' hand block printed fabric, has helped to keep a ten generation line of local printers in business.

The nomadic Rabari tribe, also in the Kutch region, is well known for their Dhebaria embroidery. Fifteen years ago the elders of the tribe banned women from doing this embroidery work, but women found a loophole in the decree, and Siegel has now been fortunate to be able to use this local technique in the detailing on some of her designs.

Siegel also travels to Kerala where most of her fabrics are naturally dyed in the city of Munnar. Although labor intensive, Siegel takes care in knowing that the natural dyes used will not pollute the local water source or harmfully impact the community's long-term health.

Siegel has also partnered with Clothing Traceability to further the connection between artisan producer and garment wearer. The Clothing Traceability project uses QR codes for smartphones to give the consumer access to information on how the garment was made, adding another layer of transparency to the supply chain. 

Laura Siegel's aesthetic reflects her commitment to give back to the communities that continually inspire her. "The process of working with the artisans really shapes each collection," says Siegel. "The artisans themselves create their own interpretation of the season's themes. The result is a collaboration of past dreams, future dreams, and the cultural values and expressions of everyone involved."

artisan photos: Shaina Shealy
look book photos: Federico Peltretti

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Doux Me: Interview in Paris

I was thrilled to do this recent interview with Parisian bio cosmetic line, Doux me

Founder Caroline Wachsmuthcreated the concept of "Doux me" one day when she was presenting an aromatherapy seminar on natural skincare to students of the Aveda institute in New York. A former journalist with a strong passion for health and beauty, Caroline devoted herself to the study of essential oils and massage in South Africa for three years – later while studying massage and spa aesthetics at the Aveda institute in Minneapolis. While in South Africa, she had already started to create her own mixtures of essential oils and personalized synergies dedicated to her friends. Then, during her stay in New York and before attending the Aveda Institute, Caroline used to spend half of her days creating beauty creams in her kitchen and bathroom. Upon her return to Europe, her dream came true: launching her own skincare brand in 2002, Doux Me – the first cosmetic beauty line bearing an organic label in France.  Her company, Daylily, is a member of Cosmebio, the Professional Association of Ecologic and Organic Cosmetics.

Caroline Wachsmuth, founder of Doux me

"Doux me is a beauty care line that fulfills the dreams of those women who look for products that are 100% natural and organic, who are not fooled by an affixed label on packaging or a passing fashion trend, because they demand more for both their skin and the planet. A brand that is a pioneer: it's the very first cosmetic brand that has received the label "Ecological and Organic Cosmetic" in France."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Anna Sew Hoy's Garment Deconstructions

I find these garment deconstructions by artist/ceramicist Anna Sew Hoy to be so incredibly timely in terms of the fashion waste dialogue and ongoing investigation of the shifting seams of consumer relationships with clothing. 'Tissues and Trench Coats' is currently on view through March 17 at Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco. More images are viewable here.

"The trench coat sculptures were arrived at through a process of subtraction. The artist meticulously cuts away all the panels of fabric, leaving nothing but the seams. What remains is a floppy skeleton of an iconic piece of clothing. Structured form is un-structured. Gestural. "Try to understand how your most familiar things are put together, like a child taking apart an alarm clock. Understanding through removal, by un-construction. A trench coat has a lining, lapels, cuffs, pockets, epaulets, buttons, button-holes. The skeleton becomes a schematic of tailored parts. The tailored structure is made abject, unformed. The body is missing."

all images courtesy of the artist and Romer Young Gallery