At the V&A Museum, the exhibition that merges nature with fashionWhile the initiatives against the fashion system’s impact on the environment and fauna continue, like the Greenpeace Detox march in Bandung and PETA’s protests, the Victoria & Albert Museum explores the complex relationship between nature and fashion from the 17th century to today.

Jun 15, 2018
Posted in: , Sustainability
Suit, M, camouflage printed cotton, designed by Richard James, London, 1998
Suit, M, camouflage printed cotton, designed by Richard James, London, 1998

The exhibition is entitled “Fashioned from Nature” and since it debuted this past 21 April in London, it has created quite a stir, explaining how nature has been the main inspiration for the world of fashion from the beginning. Over the centuries, this inspiration has interpreted shapes and colours from the vegetative and animal world, transforming them into extraordinary outfits and accessories, in fabrics with striking prints… A seeming idyllic relationship has been thrown into crisis by contemporary industrial production processes, which have forced the entire fashion system to take a look at the question of sustainability.

The V&A exhibition does not leave any element behind in its analysis and, next to historic garment and footwear models, it also presents the fruit of modern-day experimentation in innovative materials as an alternative to traditional ones, demonstrating how fashion can be creative and sustainable at the same time.

Pair of earrings, heads of Blue Creepers, circa 1875
Pair of earrings, heads of Blue Creepers, circa 1875

A total of 300 items are on show at Fashioned from Nature: from lavish 17th-century garments embroidered with floral motifs, to 18th-century muslin decorated with beetle wings, from Mongolian hats made from the feathers of monarch pheasants, to the Calvin Klein eco-dress made from recycled plastic bottles and worn by Emma Watson at the 2016 MET gala. Moreover, an important section of the show is dedicated to experimentations and conceptual projects inspired by sustainability. Among the more interesting examples: the dress created from plant roots by the Dutch artist Diana Scherer, who through the “Exercises in rootsystem domestication” project uses seeds, earth, and water to give shape to root systems that take on the shape of fabric; the bioluminescent dress of genetically modified silk created from the collaboration between Spuntniko!, MIT Lab and the South Korean National Institute of Agricultural Sciences; the tunic and pants in Bold Threads synthetic spider silk by the English stylist Stella McCartney, who has always been an advocate of sustainable fashion with her Green Carpet Collection; and the Grape Dress made from Vegea, a textile material made from pomace.

The exhibition will continue through 27 January 2019 and is worth a trip to London.

Indonesian models wear eco fashion apparels designed by Indonesian well known designers Felicia Budi, Indita Karina, Lenny Agustin during "Detox Catwalk" organised by Greenpeace in the polluted paddy field in Rancaekek, West Java province to highlight the toxic pollution brought by clothing industry as well as the idea that 'Beautiful fashion shouldn't cost the earth'.
Indonesian models wear eco fashion apparels designed by Indonesian well known designers Felicia Budi, Indita Karina, Lenny Agustin during “Detox Catwalk” organised by Greenpeace in the polluted paddy field in Rancaekek, West Java province to highlight the toxic pollution brought by clothing industry as well as the idea that ‘Beautiful fashion shouldn’t cost the earth’.
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