In May I visited the Fashioned from Nature exhibition in London at the V&A with my great friends Anjum and Jane. The exhibition left us inspired and stopped us in our tracks, making us question our shopping behaviours.
The exhibition examines how nature has inspired and influenced our tastes in fashion and the impact we have on nature to satisfy our tastes over time. Fashioned from Nature begins on the ground floor with historic costumes and the raw materials used to create them, it then progresses to the late 20th and 21st century fashion on the first floor. There are many beautiful, nature inspired designs, textiles and garments…but Beware! This may at first seem like an gentle exhibition of historic garments, it’s not!
The exhibition curators have devised a show that lulls the viewer into a smug revery at our ancestors extraordinary tastes in fashion and their silhouettes. In reality it takes us on a journey, exposing our ever changing tastes and relentless drive for new fashions. Scratch below the surface and they expose the impact our thirst for raw materials has on the animals, ecosystems and our fellow humans. All of whom become victims in one way or another to supply our ruthless appetite for immediate gratification and fast fashion.
Fashioned from Nature challenges our purchasing habits and how we source our clothes and tries to offer solutions to change our reckless consumption. The lifecycle of a typical garment is examined, and we are asked to question our use and aftercare of garments too. How often a garment is worn, washed and disposed of, are just as valid questions as becoming informed about the garments source, materials and production process.
The exhibition concludes with a glimmer of hope, showcasing some of todays designers searching for sustainable ways of working with innovative new processes, techniques and materials. Natural dyes, wearable ‘paper’ (see above) and mushroom fabrics are just some of the innovative materials on display.
Fashioned from Nature leaves the visitor with plenty of food for thought, demanding we think and question before we buy, and nudges us to seek out a more sustainable fashion cycle.
Fashioned from Nature is on in Gallery 40 at the V&A, London until 27th January 2019.