Gallery: SUSTAINABLE STYLE: Eko-Laborative Fashion Week Exhibit


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.

+ Eko-Lab

+ Ekovaruhuset

+ Eko-Laborative on Inhabitat (September 5, 2008)

+ Eko-Laborative photo gallery on flickr

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).

Gallery: New York Fashion Week Begins This Weekend!


Today marks the official start of NY Fashion Week, and as this new season gets underway it’s exciting to know that we will soon get front row glimpses of the Spring 2009 collections. Sustainable style continues to build global momentum, and Inhabitat will be on-site at the shows as several of our favorite eco-fashion houses and design collectives unveil their latest endeavors in the greening of haute-couture and eco-chic dressing. With John Patrick ORGANIC nominated for this year’s VOGUE CFDA award and Ekovaruhuset getting fabulous press on the pages of major global fashion publications, we will be sitting pretty with both the local and international set as the fashion parade gets rolling.

Read on for details on next week’s stellar Eko-Laborative fashion exhibition featuring Ekovaruhuset’s organic, fair trade designs as well as the launch of the uber-creative EKO-LAB collective during the height of NY fashion week.

On Tuesday, September 9th, 2008, Ekovaruhuset and the newly formed EKO-LAB fashion collective will unveil their Eko-Laborative exhibition at The Carriage House in midtown Manhattan, just around the corner from the Bryant Park tents. Eko-Laborative will highlight one-of-a-kind eco-fashion pieces created by a curated selection of international and local designers. Each design to be featured in the exhibition has been conceived and produced following strict sustainability guidelines, including the use of certified organic fabrics and eco-materials treated with non-toxic, vegetable dyes and low-impact production methods. The gorgeous designs on display will be eco-luxurious in every detail and aspect of wearability while also incorporating ‘haute couture’ as a vital, fashion-forward inspiration.

EKO-LAB is a collaborative of six talented NYC-based eco-fashion designers who work collectively to promote sustainability via their handcrafted, thoughtfully produced designs. The collaborative is closely affiliated with Ekovaruhuset, the original ‘Organic and Fair-Made’ eco-fashion boutique on NYC’s Lower East Side. Ekovaruhuset first opened its doors in 2006 under the vision and guidance of innovative eco-designer and organic clothing pioneer, Johanna Hofring. Since then their designs have been featured on the pages of major editorial publications such Harpers Bazaar Japan, Vogue Italia, Nylon, Lucky, Selvedge, and Ecocolo – to name a few:

“Ekovaruhuset, which means “House of Organic” carries clothes that are environmentally friendly and good for your body. It feels amazing to touch their creations made from non-pesticide treated organic cotton and sheep who have never been fed chemical foods.~ Elle Japan

“From Stockholm to New York, Johanna Hofring turns heads with a talented hand picked group of designers who interpret sustainable fashion with the emotional graphic pieces of XZ and the sophisticated works of Meiling Chen.” ~ Vogue Italia

The September 9th event will take place from 3:00pm to 6:00pm at The Gabarron Foundation’s Carriage House on 149 East 38th Street, between Lexington & 3rd Avenues. Contact Ekovaruhuset/EKO-LAB for more details, and stay tuned for our coverage of this sustainable style event during New York Fashion Week.

Participating Eko-Laborative designers include:

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.

Featured House of Organic/Fall 2008 fashion photography by Jill Fehrenbacher

+ Ekovaruhuset



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