Model behaviour at Fashion Takes Action

Photo: Kate Szatmari

Without hemp sandal or hoodie in sight, Fashion Takes Action produce a totally green runway show this month in Toronto.

Ten Canadian designers unveiled mini-collections of eco-couture, featuring sustainable fabrics, low-impact dye, and cruelty-free methods of production. The designs were showcased during a runway show and gala which boasted the "lightest eco-footprint possible" and benefited Environmental Defense. The show was such a success that Robin Kay, President of the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC) invited Fashion Takes Action to show on October 25th at the L'Oreal Fashion Week.

Wide range
The collections ranged from avant-garde to entirely accessible; five designs were sold at live auction from the runway immediately following the show. Models walked barefoot on a sod runway under LED lights; an open wall behind them displayed the sunset over the lush green belt and allowed guests to enjoy fresh air. Farley Chatto, Annie Thompson, Thien LE, Damzels in this Dress, Thieves and Juma were only a few of the designers involved. Each designer was asked to use sustainable fabric when creating their designs.

Recycled and sustainable style
It began with Annie Thompson's recycled, almost gothic collection set to grinding, bass-heavy music. Trademark green and black stripes marked this collection, which seemed to play off the apathy and strength of a mainstream green movement. Damzels in this Dress and Thieves offered a more upbeat picture of eco-awareness. Set to remixed hip hop and pop music, the shapes were longer and more playful. Whether it was the stunning ballgowns down up in brightly coloured bamboo from Thien LE, or the sleek, stylish organic cotton suit from Farley Chatto, the materials were immensely versatile in shape, colour, and texture.

Signature penguins
The final display of eco-fashion was a soulful, sensual operatic score behind Pat McDonagh's classic white designs. Her pieces featured wide skirts, empire waist lines, and a simple, repeated penguin design. All of the clothing was hand-made, but hers also featured a water-based design was individually printed with low-impact dyes. The particular care and time that is required for such work makes the collection particularly unique. The signature piece, a white high-waisted, wide skirt with penguins dancing around the hem and load of crinoline underneath, was sold at auction and will be re-made to size for the highest bidder.

Great care was taken at every stage of the event to ensure its green-ness, including offsetting the entire event with BullFrog Power and CarbonZero. The food was locally grown and organic, served with biodegradable plates and cutlery. No electricity was used to style the model's hair and the stylists chose natural make-up from Aveda. Like the green movement itself, there are aspects of eco-couture that remain far from reach for the general public; a Thien LE gown sold at the gala for $900 but has a retail value of $6000. And of course, like the flirty, enviro-friendly designs from Thieves, (already available online) or the LED lights -- there are many options already at our fingertips.

Catch it all again at the L'Oreal Fashion Week on Thursday October 25th at 2:00pm. Tickets are available online.

Jessica deMello is a Toronto based fashion writer.