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Fashion by Felicia Goes Green

Felicia Caponigri | Friday, April 20, 2012

“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” − Andy Warhol.


“Fashion is not something that exists only in dresses. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” − Coco Chanel.


The first time I heard of the sustainability movement, darlings, was when I read an article a few years back about the dear Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio’s dedication to counting his carbon footprint. “What was that?” I wondered. A new type of impression, left by an avant-garde footwear design I had yet to make my own? Yes, I know-lovely naïveté. Or maybe not.


As a six-year old, I remember my first grade teacher insisting we watch a short animated film about wasting water. In it, a little girl brushed her teeth vigorously while letting the sink water run. Unbeknownst to her, the water from her sink was draining the little pond outside the window where a charming goldfish lived. Soon, he was out of breath, and almost left for dead. Of course, you can imagine my six-year-old fashionista shock. I immediately ran home, and insisted on turning off the water every time I brushed my teeth-even for five seconds!


While my commitment to this act of environmentalism has waned over the years, that beautifully orange fish still captures my attention. Waste can often be a word too easily uttered in our daily nonverbal vocabulary.


Indeed, even if we buy a designer leather bag and keep it forever, “focusing on fashion can feel like a wastefully elite thing, a waste of money. But fashion is not about spending, it’s about finding,” senior Jillian Stinchcomb, organizer of the Green Fashion Show, said.


As this column is always proud to emphasize, fashion is a nonverbal, visual language that mediates relationships and our self-understanding. This discovery can happen anywhere-in a luxury boutique, a vintage store, in a museum or in Goodwill.


I myself admit to scrounging thrift stores (my particular favorite: the wonderful It’s A Wrap in Los Angeles) for amazing vintage. Don’t knock it dears- if you had found the caramel suede clutch and white Patrizia Pepe dress for the price I did, you would have expired from happiness-as I almost did on the spot!


In fact, our own imaginative and resourceful ways of finding our definitive style often sustains us through many life challenges. Now that’s sustainable fashion.


It is this sustainable fashion that the Green Fashion Show, sponsored by GreeND, seeks to emphasize. The production of textiles has always been an important part of sustainable fashion. The use of materials including organic cotton, tencel, hemp and deadstock silks has defined the movement.


Awareness is what this year’s Fashion Show seeks to emphasize.


“[It’s] awareness that students can make a conscious choice through the clothes they wear, and that sustainable fashion doesn’t have to look like something recycled,” sophomore event organizer Nathalia Silvestre said.


Sustainable fashion, as it turns out, is an industry.


By including both celebrity and student designers, the Fashion Show combines the individuality sustainable fashion can foster with the greater macrocosm of the fashion industry.


LAVUK, an eco-friendly brand based in Los Angeles, is one of the celebrity design houses that will showcase their designs this year.


Their clothing is sweatshop-free and made locally with the aforementioned sustainable materials. They also plant a tree for every purchase through the California Wildfire ReLeaf Program.


Further, LAVUK is an alum of New York Fashion Week. Who needs Anna Wintour’s Vogue pass when Fashion Week’s goods are delivered straight to your door?


Other high profile designers include Auralís, Vaute Couture from New York and Laboratório Fashion, which creates beautiful accessories out of reused Coke cans.


Freshman Alyssa Hummel is one of the premiere student-designers of the show. She says her interest in fashion sustainability stems from the fact that “many fashion trends are cyclical and come back in style, so it seems worthwhile to invest in recycling clothes.”


Hummel emphasizes the ease with which you can change and revamp an ensemble.


“Sewing skills can come in handy if I just want to add buttons, hem something or change the seams,” Hummel said.


Her fellow Notre Dame students will model her designs, a mix of vintage items with her own detailed innovations, on the runway at the Green Fashion Show.


“I like how I can have control over the piece, rather than just picking out clothing that’s in style. Sometimes you have to see the clothing as a workable piece and be creative with it, rather than just take it as is,” Hummel shared.


There is no such thing as apathy when it comes to fashion, dearest readers.


Even the academic, who states he cares not for these perceived trappings of an avant-garde commercial elite, makes a statement in his disheveled tie and elbow-patched jacket.


The recent green movement calls us to be responsible citizens of the world-to realize exactly how much what we put on our bodies actually impacts the workings of our world.


Like the goldfish in the pond, who knows what can be affected by a wasteful consumption of textiles and clothing items?


The Green Fashion Show will show us that contrary to what that all-important economist Thorstein Veblen once said, conspicuous consumption isn’t the defining aspect of fashion, conspicuous sustainability is.


The Green Fashion Show is sponsored by GreeND. It will take place in the LaFortune Ballroom on Sunday at 4 p.m. The suggested donation is $5.