By Shannon Mahanty

The Fashion Pact

All hail the Greta effect converting anger into action.
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Yes, political statements have been trickling down the runway for some time now, but SS20 kind of tipped the scales. We still loved the full rainbow coloured runways, we lost our collective minds at that Versace moment and some incredible Billy Porter front-rowing. But one of the biggest, and by far the most important trends was designers using their collections to showcase a real commitment to sustainability, in the wake of a growing climate crisis and the young, impassioned new audience literally watching the show.

While the idea of ethical and sustainable clothing was not so long ago considered unfashionable, it’s now dictating the luxury zeitgeist. Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior put nature at centre stage by opening this season’s Paris fashion week with a show set in an enchanted temporary forest. Paris’ Longchamp hippodrome was transformed with 164 trees, each placed in protective grow bags so that they could be delivered to new homes after the show. An appreciation of nature ran through to the pieces; models walked among the trees wearing chiffon dresses with plant motifs, while natural materials like raffia formed large parts of the collection. In what Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri described as an “inclusive garden”, “flowers and plants don’t just serve an ornamental purpose, they are our environment. We have a commitment to care for them, today more than ever.”

“flowers and plants don’t just serve an ornamental purpose, they are our environment. We have a commitment to care for them, today more than ever.”

Maria Grazia Chiuri

Dior’s striking set was part of collaboration with Coloco, a collective of urban landscapers who will ensure the trees go on to be planted in sustainable projects in and around Paris. Dior’s marriage of fashion and nature marks an exciting turning point for an industry that’s long been criticised for being a huge contributor to climate crisis; fashion week has historically had a massive impact on consumption, while the effects of fast fashion are also having a devastating effect.

Echoing a renewed commitment to sustainable fashion, Burberry and Gucci staged their first ever carbon neutral shows - with the former aiming to be a brand with zero carbon footprint by 2020. Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour housed her New York show in the street to ensure that it was completely electricity-free, while the models wore free love florals made from repurposed fabrics.

The fashion world's heightened conscience taps into a much wider cultural shift towards. This year alone we’ve witnessed a seachange in attitudes as activists like Greta Thunberg become household names, and movements like the Extinction Rebellion put pressure on consumers. Fashion may not have always been kind to the planet, but if SS20’s celebration of nature and commitment to sustainability is anything to go by, history is about to be rewritten.


Check out the tracklist to the SS20 shows…

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