Here is another one of my favourite shoots which I did a while back with Angela and was in The Irish Times Weekender magazine over the weekend. I wasn’t really sure what lights to use on the day, but then I realised I forgot my attachments to attach softbox or umbrella or anything actually so ended up using just natural light.. which was pretty difficult considering my tripod also broke that morning and the place wasn’t the brightest..
Words: DEIRDRE McQUILLAN
FASHION: Ethical fashion is big business. The majestic interior of Carton House sets the scene for looks on these pages, which have been put together using mostly recycled clothes from charity and vintage shops
AT THE RECENT London Fashion Week, the most extensive area in the Exhibition Hall was Estethica, which was showcasing ethical designer fashion and which grows bigger each season. The initiative, launched three years ago, has been sponsored by Monsoon for four seasons, and has now secured significant UK government backing. It’s all part of a growing awareness of how, where and in what conditions our clothes are made.
An upmarket Danish label called Noir, which is committed to sustainability, showed with its first catwalk collection in London that such fashion can be modern, elegant and sexy.
The clothes for this shoot, inspired by a similar aesthetic approach, were drawn from Dublin charity and vintage shops such as A Store is Born (open only on Saturdays), Oxfam (which is running a new campaign, called Sustain Me, with fashion photographer Rankin, using recycled clothing) and Enable Ireland, with additions from UK-manufactured items from Topshop and Circus.
Ethical clothing is often perceived as dull, dowdy and passé – worthy clothes for worthy people. But, photographed on a sleek model in the elegant surroundings of l8th-century Carton House in Co Kildare, these clothes look as cool and as edgy as if drawn from international designer collections.
It takes style and creativity to put found or salvaged items together in an appealing way, but adversity fosters creativity. The 37 designers at this year’s Estethica were a diverse group, many with terrific ideas – some rather zany such as Prophetik, which works with a charity in Asia training elephants to paint on organic silk. Another, Veja, works with Brazilians to produce trainers, and Beyond Skin makes shoes in India from fake snake and stingray skins. Butcher produces handmade high-end fashion eyewear made in France from vegetable-tanned leather. The collections from Estonian designer Reet Aus are made from old, mass-produced fast-fashion clothes and leftovers. In Ireland, Unicorn, a collection made from natural fabrics, has made steady progress since it was founded by Sophie Rieu some years ago.
Re-dress.ie is an Irish website, “a one-stop shop for information on sustainable fashion and clothing” set up by a group which last year organised the successful Fashion Evolution event. On Saturday, April 24th, in association with MS (which is committed to increasing its FairTrade and organic clothing), Fashion Evolution will stage another event with Katharine Hamnett and Mike Barry, MS environmental systems manager, in The Button Factory in Temple Bar, Dublin. Details of this event and a similar one in Belfast called A Changing Room, on March 21st and 22nd, can be found on the website http://www.re-dress.ie
Want to know more?
The December 2008 issue of Fashion Theory, published by Berg, is devoted to Ecofashion (read it online at http://www.ingentaconnect.com), with interesting essays on topics such as slow fashion, ethical branding and the consumer, eco tech fashion and celebrity chic and the “green” commodity fetish. Included is a review of multimedia artist Andrea Zittel’s Smockshop exhibition of one-of-a-kind smock dresses by different artists.
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times