Fashion is beautiful, creative, a means to express your identity. At the same time, it is also one of the most polluting industries in the world. More and more people become increasingly aware of our environment, yet we keep focusing on the runway and getting excited about the abundance of trends it presents. We shop, we throw away, and we shop again. The Victoria & Albert museum in London wants to shed some light on this dire situation. Between April 21 and January 27, they will showcase an exhibition that explores the complex and slightly hypocrite relationship between fashion and nature. 
I’m saying slightly hypocrite because fashion recurrently draws inspiration from the natural world. Think about the natural silhouettes of Dior or the organic designs of Dries Van Noten. However, fashion’s production process and high demand for materials are damaging the environment. Fashioned from Nature will shine the spotlight on both polluting and conscious materials, as well as famous campaigners and protest groups like the Fashion Revolution and will furthermore explore designers and brands that are looking for solutions to create a better, more sustainable industry.

Expect contemporary designs from sustainable fashion brands, such as Stella McCartney, who is known for her development of sustainable materials. Or the Calvin Klein look Emma Watson wore during the 2016 MET gala, which was made from recycled plastic bottles. Furthermore, visitors can admire a variety of innovative fabrics, like the leather-substitute made from grape waste, produced by textile research facility Vega.

Additionally, the exhibition will look back about four hundred years to explore traditional and controversial materials. Some examples are: a pair of earrings made from honeycreeper birds, a muslin dress decorated with the iridescent green wing cases of hundreds of jewel beetles, a corset made from whalebone, or a turtle shell fan. It further explores the timeless materials still used today, such as silk, flax, wool and cotton and then zooms in on the introduction of man-made materials, which brought fashion to the masses whilst simultaneously contributing to pollution.

After browsing through some of the protests against this pollution, such as posters, clothes and artworks, the visitor can explore a range of solutions reducing fashion’s impact on the environment: from a denim production process that only needs a little water, to a dress grown from plant roots created by artist Diana Scherer. Altogether, the exhibition features a positive outlook on a substantial problem. It is critical about the industry we all love whilst also providing the visitors with inspiration and examples on how to do it right.
Fashioned from Nature will be on view from April 21 to January 27 (2019) at V&A Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London.
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Ensemble, Stella McCartney, Winter 2017 | © Stella McCartney
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Speckled Crimson Ruff by Michelle Lowe-Holder, ‘Flock & Fold’ Collection AW11 | Photo: Polly Penrose
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Silk train (detail), woven with a pattern of roses, c.1890s | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Pine Marten fur hat, Caroline Reboux, 1895 | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Greenpeace printed cotton t-shirt, Britain, 1990s | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Embroidered linen jacket, 1620s | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Man’s silk waistcoat embroidered in silk with a pattern of macaque monkeys, 1780-89 | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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‘Grape’ dress (detail) made with Vegea, a leather alternative made from grape waste | © Vegea
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Outfit made from leather off-cuts and surplus yarn, Katie Jones, 2017 | Photo: Rachel Mann
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Cape of curled cockerel feathers, Auguste Champot, France, ca. 1895 | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London