Is There Sustainable & Ethical Fashion on the Red Carpet?
The first Monday in May is known to those who follow fashion as the Met Gala. Originally known as Costume Institute Gala or the Met Ball, the event brings out A-listers from film, music and the fashion world. The Met Gala is where fashion meets art. This year’s theme, Manus x Machina – Fashion in the Age of Technology. What could be more perfect than to look at the history of apparel manufacturing to an age of 3D printing and using recycled materials in Haute Couture gowns on the red carpet?
From afar, I watched the looks transcend the red carpet through social media posts—Louis Vuitton, Atelier Versace, Chanel, just to name a few. The red carpet always has a sense of sustainability borrowing looks from the archives of years past, but it hasn’t been until late that the new creations have taken note. For instance, the show stopper for me this year was Emma Watson in Calvin Klein.
While this gorgeous dress didn’t incorporate the metallic design of so many other pieces that evening, it lived true to the event’s premise of Manus x Machina. Using machines to create material from waste and then hand perfecting the design. The look created in a collaboration with Calvin Klein and Eco Age used not only recycled water bottles but recycled materials for the zippers and the bustier was made from organic cotton. The complete look itself can be used as separates for other looks—pants, bustier and train. What could be more sustainable than that—what a way to make an impact on the red carpet. Don’t get me wrong I ooh’d and ahh’d over the other designer silhouettes that evening, but this one struck a different chord.
Exactly a week later, while visiting NYC, I took the 65 block trek from my hotel in Chelsea to see the Costume Institute’s exhibit. It was awe inspiring and worth it. So much beauty. So much Avant Garde through the likes of Alexander McQueen, House of Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. The exhibit is a sensory journey through the past 100 years of fashion from Haute Couture to Ready-to-wear—from the hand (manus) to the invention of the sewing machine (machina). Broken out into 6 themes—embroidery, feather work, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework and leatherwork—the traditional work stood alongside the contemporary. Some of the most fascinating pieces required a definite pause for additional admiration. Haute Couture dresses made of straws and gowns that looked like they were laser imprinted (only to find out that each feather was glued to the garment) were show stopping and gawked at the marvel of the piece.
Beyond the beauty and fascination of the exhibit, was quote from Sarah Burton, Creative Director Alexander McQueen. It resonated with me throughout the exhibit. The quote, “In a way, the hand is being lost today. It’s important to me that a piece of clothing always feels like it’s been touched by the hand at some point, even if there is a lot of machine work involved.”, reminded me that most people give thought to what they put in, but not what they put on their bodies. I was compelled to take a photo of that quote and ensure that my shadow was included in the shot. As a designer, I have come to appreciate not only the beauty of the garment but the process involved. As fashion consistently evolves with unconventional materials and innovative twists on classic looks, we can’t forget that there are “hands” behind the process. Whether it’s Avant-garde art made from alternative materials or a beautiful sustainable look found down the red carpet, it’s an exciting time in the fashion industry as
About Hopeless + Cause Atelier: Founded in 2015, Hopeless + Cause is for the woman who wants to make an impact on the scene and the world. This social wear with a social conscience brand creates custom looks with a commitment to sustainable and philanthropic practices. For more information, visit HopelessCauseAtelier or be social with us on Instagram @HopelessCauseAtelier and Twitter @HopelessCauseAt.
About the Author
Dara Ambriz is the designer behind Hopeless + Cause Atelier, a social wear brand with a social conscious. Her background is in Psychology and Communications and sees fashion through that lens—how the individual makes an impact on the scene and communicates through their own personal style. Prior to launching Hopeless + Cause Atelier, Dara spent over 15 years in Human Resources and Corporate Community Engagement and worked to empower local non-profit organizations. It wasn’t until a stint in independent retail, that she decided her childhood dream of fashion design and really gained an understanding of the importance of slow, sustainable fashion.