Photo by Sean Michael/Epoch

If you’d rather draw stares than jeers, skip the fur stoles this winter in favor of this textured moss collar by Tara Baoth Mooney, a recent graduate of the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. (Bonus: It’ll match your living plant purse.) It’s no surprise that Mooney reaped accolades for her botanical faux fur at this past month’s Fashioning the Future Awards. This spirited young designer looked to her Irish roots—quite literally—for ways people can fashionably interface with the natural realm, as well as consider the impact their activities have on the environment.

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Fashioning the Future is an international student competition hosted each year by industry leaders to identify the most promising and innovative designers of the next generation. For 2009, the event revolved around the theme of water, specifically the fashion industry’s reliance on this precious resource.

The moss collar engages its wearer through symbiotic biomimicry via a photosynthetic garment.

Mooney’s moss collar was particularly apropos given the plant’s dependence on wet climates and its sensitivity to changes in the atmosphere. “I wanted to invite the idea of public engagement through symbiotic biomimicry via a photosynthetic garment or accessory,” she tells Ecouterre.


Her piece, she notes, was inspired by the physical differences between people and their immediate surroundings. “This led me to investigate the idea of adopting the natural environment as a type of ‘cladding,'” she says. To extend that idea further, her moss-collar prototypes were photographed as the plant was fruiting, then digitally printed, which resulted in a unique pattern on silk.

Does adorning greenery actually make us green by association?

Theatrical yet dreamy, Mooney’s portable vegetal pelts offer grist for rumination: What role could wearing live vegetation play in bringing us closer to a truly symbiotic relationship with the natural world? Outside of sustainable textiles and natural fibers, does adorning greenery actually make us green by association?

+ Fashioning the Future