London Fashion Week 2011

Arek Monday, May 30, 2011
 London Fashion Week
From the formal of the renegade, the spectacular and amateur, London Fashion Week is upon us. Here are the names that marry style with the sustainability
Heroically, amid to the mayhem the Conscious Designers Collective, staged a renegade roving ethical catwalk in the street. This featured a half-dressed man courtesy of Pants to Poverty and female models in ethical labels such as Elena Garcia and Tamma. In one fell swoop they paraded the conscious London Fashion Week 2011 fashion message and entertained of the crowds. Perfect.
Inside the event proper, Esthetics, the ethical wing of LFW, opened its the sixth season. The big draw was the unlikely fashion event of the unveiling of Dedra's Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. Everyone appeared to be there: fashion editors, Erin O'Connor, Defra, the Salvation Army and representatives from the big stakeholders such as Sainsbury's and M&S.
Lord Hunt, who launched the Defra plan, is no clothes horse. Nevertheless he stood up on the runway behind a transparent plinth and urged us to celebrate the "truly sustainable clothing" we would be now see on the catwalk.
Then it was straight to the monochromatic drama of the Noir show (see our photo gallery). London Fashion Week 2011 is the Danish label that knows how to bring sex appeal to ethical fashion in a way Defra never will.

But is there any such thing as truly sustainable clothing? Noir is actually a crossover brand – using some sustainable of fiber production but earning its ethical stripes by using EU-based, transparent production. Its show was assured, confident and worlds away from tofu kaftans that the some still associate with ethical London Fashion Week 2011, as billowing dresses, velvet box jackets and leather leggings thundered down the catwalk to a version of Radiohead's Creep. But ethically it's still a trade-off.
Back in the Esthetics zone you could see just the how far many of the smaller, independent ethical labels had moved on. Stand-outs included Elena Garcia's carefully worked trans-seasonal outfits, and there were the heritage, British-made brands such as Eloise Grey and Anatomy's sharp-tailored take on classic English style using organic wools and wool tweed. But it was the People Tree, the 100% fair-trade pioneer brand that caught my eye with a strong collaboration with Eley Kishimoto featuring cutely patterned dresses.

Jeff appears to be very much about "the dress", using eco-fibres and locally-produced silk painted on by elephants as part of the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project. I was looking forward to seeing what these London Fashion Week 2011 elephants could do but it turned out to be so dark in there that it was difficult to see much.
Not much cohesion in the collection either, which featured just about every dress you could conceive – jersey fabric pulled tight and rouched in white one minute, retro beach/prom the next. Friends and associates (including Rex's girlfriend from last summer's Big Brother) pitched in with the modeling, apart from one stellar contributor, Summer Rayne Oakes, the US model who is a genuine eco-activist and extremely well-informed. So we had progressive fabrics, a good star turn and yet an ultimately amateurish show.

Everyone can learn from Junky,s Styling, the East End queens of the garment reconstruction. Last night it opened its show with a new wholesale collection launched with Top Shop featuring signature super-short skirts and jackets with shaped collars and different sleeve lengths.
Junky also had jackets with their trademark pinstripe suiting and open backed waistcoats, all accessorized with bright green tights. There was some welcome  to London Fashion Week 2011ethical menswear too – we really need some more of this – in the shape of the knitwear refashioned from old jumpers. We also enjoyed a turn on the catwalk from Michael Costiff, the Comme des Garçon muse as a nod to fashion's heritage. That's the way to do it.

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