Paris Fashion Week. Those three little words conjure images of decadence and couture, the epitome of luxury and fantasy. But this October, as a testament to how far eco-fashion has come, Paris Fashion Week also hosted a slew of events dedicated to emerging and established designers who blend ethical production with thoughtfully designed clothing and accessories.
Now in its sixth year, the four-day Ethical Fashion Show hosted more than 100 accessory and clothing designers at Le Tapis Rouge. Industry vets, including Veja sneakers, Terra Plana, and Article 23 were there alongside newcomers such as Nu Jeans and Como No. Nu stood out as with its dark denim in classic straight and slim fits. Its production is Oeko-Tex-certified, and it uses nickel-free buttons, rivets and zippers. Como Noâ€™s organic cotton patterned bags and â€śwelliesâ€ť are fresh, fun, and fair-made.
The more cutting-edge designers, however, were located in The Marais. At the Green Showroom, Andrea Klusener showed her Spring 2010 collection of beautiful dresses. Using draping and knotting techniques, Klusener transformed organic cotton and silk into dreamy frocks in a muted palette of light blues and grays.
For her label Caro-e, German designer Carolin Graening drew inspiration from the sea. Titled â€śMy Life Aquatic,” Graening showed extraordinary sweaters and dresses handknit from organic cotton. Details included a beautifully draped sweaters or â€śshells,â€ť along with delicate details in every piece.
Rianne De Witte showed a much more sophisticated and toned-down collection for spring, quite a departure from the bubble skirts and voluminous dresses that have been a consistent part of her line. For 2010, she showed organic cotton jumpsuits inspired by 1930s swimwear, as well as tailored and feminine dresses made from lyocell and organic cotton.
Enamore finally moved beyond its retro aesthetic to include beautifully feminine lingerie in fun polka-dot prints (made with herb-dyed Indian silk) and sailor-inspired navy solids (soybean and organic cotton) trimmed with red-and-white bows.
Valentine Gauthier showed her spring collection of organic cotton and silk pieces, which are dyed according to Oeko-Tex standards, privately in The Marias. Her vegetable-tanned gladiator sandals have a warrior aesthetic, while her metal-hardware-embellished dresses evoked the ocean with their azure blue, coral, ink and natural hues.
The designer Leila Hafzi privately showed her exquisite collection of flowing dresses in a rainbow of silks. Hafziâ€™s collection was consistent with past seasons, with floor-length dresses hand-sewn in Nepal and a handful of drapey knits made from Mongolian cashmere.
Hafzi included a harem-pant jumpsuit for spring, as well as a few styles with shorter hemlines, while still maintaining the overall aesthetic of dreamy couture. This season, she also added a few pieces in Ahimsa or peace silk, a material she says she’ll use more in future collections.