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A Fascinating Visit to 'Fashioned from Nature' at the V&A

6th August 2018

The V&A’s thought provoking new exhibition, Fashioned from Nature, is a very important and eye opening display “determined to incite change” Karen Dacre, Evening Standard. We left feeling inspired and thoughtful about the sourcing of our clothing and the environmental footprint our fashion choices have, making it for us, a must see for everyone! From the sustainability conscious, to those with little knowledge of the textile and fashion industry’s impact on nature, this exhibition can teach us all something valuable.

Greenpeace printed cotton t-shirt highlighting the detrimental effects of global warming, 1990s. Seen at the Fashioned from Nature exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum

The direct impact that trends and spikes of interest in certain materials have on our planet is the umbrella theme to the exhibition. Housed within this theme are a vast array of items spanning from the 1600’s to present day. Pieces exhibited ranged from luxury fur accessories and coats, to recycled high street clothing, and even products produced from pineapples. These carefully curated garments showcase the vast and evolving methods of textile production and fashion manufacture, while exploring in great depth the connection between nature and fashion.

Left: Pine Marten fur hat, Caroline Reboux, 1895. Right: Silk train (detail),  woven with a pattern of roses, c.1890s at the Fashioned from Nature exhibition, V&A Museum

Left: Embroidered linen jacket, 1620s. Right: Man’s silk waistcoat embroidered in silk with a pattern of macaque monkeys, 1780–89 at the Fashioned from Nature exhibition

So many interesting creations were featured within the exhibition, and amongst the most fascinating was a pair of earrings made from the heads of two Red Legged Honeycreeper birds, circa 1875. They were so rich in colour and really showcased the natural vibrancy of the animal kingdom. A cellulose acetate evening coat was reminiscent of iridescent shells and embellished with imitation pearls. Another piece that stood out to us was a photograph from the Greenpeace Detox Catwalk in Bandung, exhibiting models carrying banners with slogans stating that “Beautiful Fashion shouldn’t cost the Earth”, which we feel essentially summarises the sustainability crisis in the Fashion industry. 

Left: Earrings made from heads of Red Legged Honeycreeper birds, circa 1875. Right: Cellulose acetate evening coat (detail), designed by Alix, Paris, 1936 at the Fashioned from Nature Exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum

Photograph taken at the Greenpeace Detox Catwalk in Bandung. Seen at the V&A Museum

With nature being the principal source of inspiration at EJS, our regard for the environment is of ultimate importance. We believe in investing in quality, statement pieces that you will love for a long time. We work with small, expert mills and factories in Italy and the U.K., who are held to the highest ethical and sustainable standards. Our products are produced in small quantities to eliminate excessive wastage, and the majority of our fabrics are made from natural fibres. Our notebooks are created with the offcuts of silk-and-cotton fabrics from our scarf and cushion production, to reduce wastage and contribute towards the protection of our irreplaceable planet. The EJS Caspian Tote Bag is also made from a quality heavyweight cotton canvas which is 100% Fairtrade.

Left: Emma J Shipley Caspian Tote Bag made from 100% Fairtrade Heavyweight Cotton Canvas. Right: Elven Silk Notebook produced with offcuts from our cushion and scarf productionInterwoven with sustainable messages, the display also highlights how natures aesthetics, textures and patterns have inspired influential fashion movements and designers, which is something that over at the Emma J Shipley studio, we can really relate to. 

Tickets can be purchased online here: Fashioned from Nature 

£12 per adult. Concessions apply. 

On now until Sunday 27 January 2019.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL

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