Whether it’s Loewe Foundation’s relationship to environment and materials, Dries Van Noten’s ethereal forest shows, or McQueen’s focus on the English garden; fashion’s history in looking to nature for inspiration is long established.
Nature is a steady fashion muse. But one that increasingly demands answers to whether an industry that benefits so much from the natural world, is to return the favour by way of respect and sustainability. This question is the focus of V&A’s forthcoming blockbuster exhibition – Fashioned from Nature.
Exploring the complex and often uncomfortable relationship between fashion and nature from 17th century to present day; the exhibition showcases fashion moments that combine uncompromising design within the spectrum of ethical and questionable practices. Featuring 300 objects – including Emma Watson’s 2016 Met Ball Calvin Klein dress – made from recycled plastic bottles – is a nod to the exhibition’s finely tuned curation that will help put to bed any outdated notions that ethical, sustainable fashion can’t possibly be stylish.
The messier history of fashion isn’t glossed over either, with a commentary on what designers could and should be doing to make a difference. Examples of controversial items, such as corsets made of whalebone, are an important part of the exhibition – and the debate. Through the V&A we are drawn towards the future with innovative design thinking bound by social good. Elsewhere, are works that confront with practices and a carelessness for the environment that we must move away from. A display of posters and slogan t-shirts, including Katharine Hamnett’s 1989 ‘Clean up or Die‘ collection, reinforces a protest narrative that’s at the heart of the exhibition.
Fashioned from Nature also heroes dedicated environmentally conscious designers like Stella McCartney and protest groups such as Fashion Revolution, who advocate making radical changes to the textile industry, in order to create not just a sustainable future – but any future at all.
Cover image courtesy of V&A
Join the Debate
Fashioned from Nature opens 21st April 2018.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Location: Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
Open: Daily: 10.00 – 17.45
Friday: 10.00 – 22.00