Los Angeles has long been a place in which dreams are pursued, notoriously settled by those seeking visibility among the fast-paced hum of the city. It is here that the fashion industry has found a west coast home whether on Rodeo Drive or Melrose Avenue. Yet we have entered a time in which the environmental costs of the textile industry far outweigh the satisfaction of finding the perfect little black dress. As agricultural pollution soars and the cotton industry takes the heat, the Los Angeles fashion industry has stepped up to create attire that marries beauty and sustainability.
The House of Petals has showcased the city’s top eco-friendly and organic designs at the Eco-Petal fashion event in 2006. The show was part of a ten day “Eco-Fashion Week” during which buyers, press, celebrities, and individuals had a chance to view the latest in environmentally friendly trends. It was also an opportunity for the House of Petals to introduce its new line of organic flower designs. Amidst a quiet garden setting complete with soft lighting and whimsical flower arrangements, designers, models, and the public gathered for the purpose of supporting growing trends towards awareness. Accompanied by trance-like music, models pleasantly diverse in age and appearance floated down a candlelit runway in designs from Stewart and Brown, Debora Lindquist, Red Ginger, and many other well-known and up and coming labels.
As if to boldly counter the stereotypes surrounding eco-friendly material and its inability to compete with mainstream fashion, a stunning array of looks created from hemp, bamboo, recycled cashmere, and organic denim served as a testament to the growth of eco-fashion. As the industry produces a growing number of designers and high fashion looks, the eco-conscious public has more choices than ever. Los Angeles stylist Arturo Chavez has noticed significant development in awareness and availability. “Last September, I remember only being able to find a small handful of designers to use for photo shoots, now Eco-Petal alone involved over 30 different designers,” he said.
In addition to more options and a trendier look, an almost tangible sense of dedication to awareness and sustainability could be felt at the show. In the face of a natural cotton industry that continues to ravage the environment and contaminate drinking water, designers like Carol Young and Tierra Del Forte showcased clothing lines that offer fashion staples such as cardigans and jeans made from organic cotton, wool, or denim. For a more urban look, Stewart and Brown and Livity Outernational offered modern trends for the sustainable lifestyle. The discernable shoe-lover would have been taken with the line of refurbished vintage footwear from Beyond Skin, and Toile d’Araignee showed us all how reclaimed yarn can be turned into couture pieces handmade with precision and care.
In an unexpected display that captured the true spirit and purpose of the night, the last model carried a guitar to the end of the runway and sang a melodic thank you to the designers for “saving the world” from pollution and unfair labor practices. While Los Angeles is a city that often covets beauty to a fault, it also leads the country in anti-sweatshop legislation and enforcement. It is here that eco-fashion has flourished and the promotion of ethical factory conditions is on the rise. The Eco-Petal exhibit is yet another example of the emergence of a fashion-forward, eco-conscious population in this city.
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