It’s not every day that a fashion show leaves you hungry for more, particularly when it comes to organic ingredients of the most delectable kind. This how I felt after the exquisite Eko-Laborative exhibition during NY Fashion Week. The designs were so rich and provocative, I was convinced that I had chanced upon a whole new cornucopia of eco-chic style. Staged as a fashion-forward collaboration between Ekovaruhuset’s ‘House of Organic’ and the new design collective, Eko-Lab, Eko-Laborative was a fine example of slow design effectively putting the brakes on fashion week madness. As a curated demonstration of sustainable style that blends organic and fair-made with true textile artistry, the designers behind this timely exhibit really had something wholesome cooking in their lab of eco-friendly fashion.
Eko-Laborative’s NY Fashion Week exhibition at The Gabarron Foundation’s Carriage House featured some of the most innovative examples of eco-luxurious style that we have seen to date. The mannequin-clad models allowed visitors to take their time to inspect the earth-friendly details and theatrical spins on eco-chic glam.
The range of materials and processes used by designers included hand-crocheted organic hemp, organic cotton hand dyed with ‘Earthues’ tints, linen jersey dyed with ‘Ledum palustre’ aka ‘Labrador tea’, organic ‘predator friendly’ wool, hand-felted with rainwater and vegetable soap. Eko-Laborative illustrated the best of fairy tale interpretations coupled with real concerns about environmentally responsible fabrication and sustainable methods.
Meiling Chen’s ‘Homage to Rapunzel’ dress, draped out of organic cotton and dyed with ‘Earthues’ dye, allowed viewers to become enraptured in the magic of handspun and braided hemp fiber. Melissa Kirgan’s ‘Deep Waters’ halter gown was equally mesmerizing in its organic gauze layering also dyed with Earthues and ‘cochineal’ combined with accessories and detailing of black hemp crochet, vintage buttons, recycled glass, and organic alpaca.
Ekovaruhuset’s founder Johanna Hofring created an organic linen, form-fitted dress embellished with pearl-like seeds from Kenya, while the Gibson gown was cleverly updated via Amy Mohlenhof’s organic hemp couture interpretation of a timeless classic dipped in natural dyes. Geometric play and hand-painted illustration also added a new dimension to sustainability and story telling, particularly in Tod Soderin’s ‘Stripes and Squares’ and Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard’s ‘High Wire Artist’.
Tod Soderin’s ‘Stripes and Squares’ organic linen jersey dress hand-dyed with ‘Ledum palustre/Labrador tea (on left); Kaori Yamazaki’s ‘Tipi Dress’ of organic linen, hand-dyed with Earthues dyes (on right) – accented with a ‘Little Braided Hat’ (photography by Alice Ng).
One of my absolute favorites from the exhibition was Kaori’s Yamazaki’s ‘Tipi Dress’ fashioned out of organic hand dyed linen and perfectly draped as an eco-chic shelter for body and soul. All of the show’s haute couture experiments addressed both wearability and sustainability in an impressive display of the power of shared goodness and a belief that the right ingredients are perhaps the best way to craft real luxury and personal style.
Participating Eko-Laborative designers included:
Amy Mohlenhoff, Kaori Yamazaki, Meiling Chen, Melissa Kirgan, Mika Machida Wyche, Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard, Johanna Hofring, Tor Soderin, Righteous, Desiree Hamman, Ashley Helvey, and Lara Miller.
Melissa Kirgan’s ‘Deep Waters’ halter gown of organic hemp gauze hand-dyed and embellished with hemp crochet, sliced glass bottle necklace, recycled glass beads, cotton head wrap with organic alpaca crochet (photography by Jeremy Langdon).
Tod Soderin’s ‘Stripes and Squares’ organic linen jersey dress hand-dyed with ‘Ledum palustre/Labrador tea – accented with an organic linen jersey mask (photography by Jordan Benaderet).
Tod Soderin’s ‘Stripes and Squares’ organic linen jersey dress (photography by Abigail Doan).
Johanna Hofring’s ‘African Seed Pearl Magic’ dress of organic linen dyed with ‘Earthues’ and embellished with seeds from Kenya and an organic linen veil (photography by Abigail Doan).
Amy Mohlenhoff’s ‘Gibson Two-Piece Gown’ (far left) of hand-crocheted organic hemp with a skirt of organic hemp muslin; Mika Machida’s ‘Support Organic Farming – A Horse Dress’ (middle) of organic linen and organic hand-dyed Icelandic wool; Desiree Hammen’s ‘Tunic Dress’ (far right) of organic nettle, peace silk bobbin lace, and peace silk embroidery with gemstones and under skirt of dyed organic cotton – embellished with an organic cotton dyed singlet, crochet mask, and organic cotton and paper mask (photography by Jeremy Langdon).
Eko-Laborative Exhibit entrance featuring designs by Amy Mohlenhoff, Melissa Kirgan and Kaori Yamazaki (photography by Alice Ng); Johanna Hofring of Ekovaruhuset (photography Xing-Zheng Chung-Hilyard).