FASHIONED FROM NATURE EXHIBITION AT THE V&A

Sustainability has been a theme around here lately, and is something that is continuing to play a bigger role in my life. This year more than ever, it’s the word on everyone’s lips, including the Victoria & Albert Museum’s.

 Victoria & Albert Museum

Victoria & Albert Museum

On Saturday 21 April, the eve of Earth Day, the V&A launched its Fashioned from Nature exhibition, setting the stage for an audience of all ages and backgrounds to connect with sustainable fashion. Exploring fashion’s often complex relationship with the natural world, the show takes visitors through this history from 1600 to the present day and provides context around how we, as consumers, have damaged the environment through our purchasing habits.

"Items on display are created using such wacky elements as the wings from jewel beetles, feathers and bones."

The V&A is known for displays that stimulate your senses and this one is no different. The gentle sounds of nature, including birds singing, are contrasted with the clunk of heavy machinery to make us reflect on man’s harmful impact on nature.

 Victoria & Albert Museum

Victoria & Albert Museum

While the idea of sustainability is beginning to trend, there are many pioneers who have been working on these ideas for a long time. Over 300 pieces from the last 400 years are showcased showing how animals and nature have both been used in and affected by fashion. Items on display are created using such surprising elements as the wings from jewel beetles, feathers and bones. While this might feel a bit odd to some viewers, these materials are picked straight from nature — much more so than a lot of the clothes we wear on a regular basis, made from plastics, polymers and other synthetics.

"From ethical denim to new fabrics crafted from recycled materials, the exhibition shows us how the modern person can still enjoy what fashion has to offer while being more ethical in their purchasing."

Among some of the more striking pieces is an incredible muslin gown made in the late 1860s, decorated with the beetle wings I mentioned above, and pictured below — it’s really something!

 Victoria & Albert Museum

Victoria & Albert Museum

Contemporary designers are also featured including Vivienne Westwood, a notable campaigner for sustainability, Stella McCartney, a true figurehead in the industry, as well as Katherine Hamnett, a longtime supporter of ethical design.

Most importantly, the exhibition also highlights what we can do to help and what steps the industry is taking towards more sustainability in fashion. From ethical denim to new fabrics crafted from recycled materials, the exhibition shows us how the modern person can still enjoy what fashion has to offer while being more ethical in their purchasing.

This important (and very well timed) event, will run until 27 January 2019, a must-see for both fashionistas and anyone who cares about the future of our planet. Find out more and take a sneak peek at the curated collection here.

Jasmine Hemsley