'Fashioned from Nature' at the V&A - The must-see exhibition this year!

'Fashioned from Nature' at the V&A - The must-see exhibition this year!

Last week we visited the Fashioned By Nature exhibition which is on at the V&A until 27th January 2019, the exhibition demonstrates the importance of sustainability. This post will take you on a journey through the exhibition and the past and future of the fashion industry.

fashioned from nature exploring sustainable fashion practises exhibition V&A

Fashioned from Nature at the Victoria and Albert Museum (on until the 27th January) highlights the importance of a more sustainable approach that is needed in the fashion industry. The exhibit spans over 400 years and explores garments and accessories that have been inspired by nature, but also tell the story of the devastating, destructive and damaging impacts fashion has on our environment. 

The exhibition takes on you a journey through time. You walk in and start off in the 17thcentury, which showcases accessories and garments from that period, with key pieces of information telling the story of production of the past. It points out how the transformation of raw silk into a luxurious fabric caused great environmental harm, releasing toxins and soap into the water supply.

As you walk around the exhibition, the sound of birdsong can be heard, which is then interrupted by the abrupt sound of man’s destruction on the environment with heavy machinery tearing down trees. Additionally, the exhibition cases begin to become more crowded, reflecting man’s ever-increasing impact on the environment as you walk through the exhibition, emphasising the growing devastation created.

 Pieces from the 17thand 18thcentury clearly take inspiration from the natural environment, with florals and leaves used in textiles. As you walk through to the 18thcentury part of the exhibit, key fibres are highlighted such as: silk, wool and cotton. It also accentuates how man was irresponsible, selfish and greedy using feathers and fur for garments. It demonstrates how fashion and progression had a cost on human life, with synthetic azo dyes causing dermatitis and an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Next, the exhibition leads to a staircase and as you walk up the stairs at the top is a dress which was worn by Emma Watson during the Met Gala 2016. It was made in collaboration with Calvin Klein and created with sustainability being the point of focus. Upstairs contains a range of contemporary designs produced by notable designers which take their inspiration from nature and the destruction man and fast fashion have emplaced on the environment. These designers include: Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and John Alexander Skelton.

Vivienne Westwood’s designs act as a platform for environmental activism as she promotes consumers to not participate in the fast industry with ‘buy less, choose well, make it last’. She uses important figures to wear her ‘Save the Artic’ T-shirts to ensure her message is heard by many and emphasises climate change. Additionally, Stella McCartney has been at the forefront of sustainable and animal-free fashion since 2001. She has partnered with a variety of manufacturers and is creative, innovative and inventive in ensuring her materials have a reduced environmental impact. The woman’s outfit has been created by using wood pulp from Sweden, which was managed sustainably and is from certified forests in Sweden. On the left, the man’s outfit is made from recycled nylon and cashmere, which was created by pre-consumer recycling. Alexander McQueen’s collection ‘Plato Atlantis’ looks into a world filled with climate change, where land has become submerged and melting ice caps. The designers all showcase how eco-conscious they are.

In addition, the exhibition explains the harmful fast fashion cycle: design, make, acquire, care and then discard, emphasising how garments are not made to last, but simply made for profit and continual consumer consumption. It points out how this detrimental cycle has resulted in contemporary issues such as: human and animal wellbeing, climate change, land use and biodiversity loss, water stress and much more! A crop that emphasises this is cotton (used in jeans), which requires vast amounts of water to be grown. This drains the local water supplies, harms communities as well as ecosystems.

Continuing on, the exhibition showcases how fast fashion not only has a negative environmental impact, but a disastrous human one as well, referring to the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh which killed over 1000 people. Thus, highlighting how fast fashion can result in poor working conditions to keep up with the unsustainable demand. Resulting in the formation of organisations such as fashion revolution 

Overall, the exhibition accentuates how the industry needs to change and that we have the tools to do so. It is a highly informative exhibition which takes you on a journey from the 17thcentury through to the 21stcentury, one that you can really get lost in. It encourages us to change how we think about fashion, to be more socially and environmentally conscious, and to act. The exhibition couldn’t have come at more opportune time with MPs to investigate the impact of fast fashion, it really challenges major brands to reflect on their production and values.
We're so happy that this exhibition really sheds a light on the issues within the fashion industry and highly recommend a visit! 
At Zola Amour we put eco and ethical fashion at the forefront of focus, even down to the threads, with our garments being made out of organic certified bamboo, cotton, denim, including the thread used to stitch the garments. 
Our aim is always to minimise our environmental impact.


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