21 December 2008

Coral is Too Precious to Wear

Environmentally aware designers are making a colorful splash (no pun intended) into ocean conservation; inspired by SeaWeb’s "Too Precious to Wear" campaign. To raise awareness about the world’s precious and delicate coral reef depletion, the campaign encourages unique ways for us all to enjoy inspired coral designs that are NOT CORAL.

At a recent conference in the big apple, Josh Dorfman, super cute environmental entrepreneur, media personality, and acclaimed author of The Lazy Environmentalist, lead a panel discussion entitled “Too Precious to Wear: Conserving Coral, a Jewel of the Ocean,” as part of the annual Initiatives in Art and Culture conference. Panel participants included SeaWeb president Dawn M. Martin and Dr. Andrew Baker – also super cute and 2008 Pew Fellow recipient, renowned coral scientist and professor at the University of Miami. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to hear about their cause and wanted to share with you what I discovered!

“Nature is our best Designer” - John Loring, Design Director, Tiffany & Company

Look for deep-sea red, orange and pink corals to show up on the runway in 2009 – not as baubles made from animal carcasses harvested from the Earths precious reefs, but instead as a color celebration honoring this unique breed of animal that has inspired so many artists throughout the ages. The campaign encourages designers in every medium to create using coral colors and textures but sans the real thing.

Precious corals are facing threats from climate change, over-fishing, pollution and consumer demand. According to Dawn, 3/4 of our planet is ocean yet less than half of a percent of conservation dollars go towards ocean preservation. Because of these concerns about the sustainability of corals as a raw material, designers such as the gang from Tiffany & Co. removed coral from their product lines over five years ago – Hazzah!

SeaWeb’s Too Precious to Wear campaign aims to create a demand for coral conservation and is calling for designers to step up to the challenge in the protection of corals, and designers are taking this challenge seriously.

Precious corals are more often seen adorning the necks of women than in their natural ocean habitat. Red corals have been fished for more than 5,000 years in the Pacific and the Mediterranean, but serious signs of decline have appeared in just the past two decades. The United States, as the world’s largest documented consumer, has placed significant pressure on these threatened animals, importing more than 26 million pieces from 2001 to 2006. Too Precious to Wear is calling for increased monitoring of the red coral trade. The campaign is urging the U.S. and other countries to list red and pink corals under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

There are many opportunities to celebrate the beauty of the ocean without destroying Earth’s precious resources. Jewelry designer, Hannah Garrison of AZU jewelry chose to depict coral’s delicate branches in solid sterling silver, while another interpretation by Luciana Jewelry is all about the color. The Berry Coil Bracelet (above) is Fairly Traded and coral inspired, in coral red seeds and recycled Colombian pesos and topped off with a faceted clear quartz nugget adds sparkle that I find super fab.

The Jay Strongwaters coral inspired Compact contributes, one compact at a time, to a better world. The collectors' limited-edition compact artfully depicts coral in hand lacquered decoration. Proceeds go to “Reefs of Hope,” a Pew Institute for Ocean Science project. I found this at Neiman Marcus for $420 a while back.

Eco clothing designer Bonnie Siefers, of Jonano celebrates coral in her Angel Collection that is heavenly, again please excuse the pun, in shades of coral that are certain to rock the runway this spring. Check out Too Precious to Wear (www.tooprecioustowear.org) to see other coral-inspired designers.

PS: SeaWeb and Too Precious to Wear will launch a collection of coral alternative jewelry with nine leading fashion and jewelry designers in winter 2009. Each designer has created a single signature piece inspired by corals and our ocean planet.

10 December 2008

Perfection, found.

For as long as my ears have been pierced, I have coveted one single style of adornment, the hoop earring. Sure, starting at the age of 16, I had my days of enamel butterflies, pearl studs, crystals, beads and even diamond solitaires, but I always went back to that simple, single, circular hoop. Yes, through the years I’ve loved many ... different styles from the small huggers to the all-time favorite soda can-sized summer of love silver stunners of the 70s. There is something so special about them all. I notice that in many of my photos I’m wearing the same pair of silver favorites. We've enjoyed many good times together. I adore these earrings.

Now I’m craving them in gold. Melissa Joy Manning has perfected this perfect accessory and she does so in recycled silver and gold. (Santa, are you listening?)

Melissa Joy Manning jewelry is handmade in Oakland, California by trained metal smiths earning a living, working wage. We manufacture all components of our jewelry in our own studio using only the finest materials purchased from our trusted, American suppliers. We believe in ethical business practices and green resources.
These beauties are offered in a variety of shapes such as square, oval, triangular, elliptical, hexagonal even rockin' stars. Oh, and the colors! Pink or yellow gold as well as silver. And there’s a size for every mood. So many choices and only two ears. What's a hoop lovin' girl to do?

This weekend I’ll be going through my jewelry box in search of those earrings whose mate has gone astray, anything less than perfect. And I’ll be cashing all of them in at a gold buying party. Yes, that’s right. I’m trading in the trash to a company who recycles gold and getting some cash in return. And I’m taking my money and buying the most perfect pair of hand forged hoops, in recycled gold, of course. (Oh, and Santa? I've been very good. And I like the triangles in pink gold. And silver stars ... and ....)

18 November 2008

A Labrinth of E Couture Baby

Australian designer Rachael Cassar is a master of eco couture with this dress from her 2007 Labyrinth Collection. Using recycled and deconstructed materials to create the shady side of chic I am in a trance for sure.

Coco Chanel once said, “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.” The world of fashion is certainly evolving into this new century in shades of green.

The winner of the Media’s Choice Award for the 2006 LancĂ´me Colour Designs Award, Rachael is a master of color and shape. I personally have a taste for vintage with a twist and could troll for hours in and amongst these designs given new life.

At the end of the journey clothing takes up a large amount of landfill. Factor in the environmental costs of packaging, transport and washing and it’s a wonder that the poor old planet has survived this long. This is why fashion designed using recycled materials comes as a welcome new trend.
“I wanted to create something sustainable that doesn’t compromise design and everything that people love about fashion,” says Rachael. From her chiffon ball gowns to her embellished evening dresses we see a vision that is a darker side of heaven.
I tend to reach for classic clothing in my wardrobe and opt for quality over quantity...perhaps Chanel had it right all along with her little black dress.

There are countless ways to reduce your fashion footprint. Whether or not we choose to sustainable or recycled style the choice is ours and its good to have so many new options available.

16 November 2008

Green Fest

Today, Green Festival is wrapping up its 3-day stop in San Francisco. I was thrilled to attend last weekends event in Washington, DC. At a time when all eyes are on our nation’s capital, and people are filled with hope after electing a new President, what an inspiration it was to see so many out in support of a greener planet.

The festival was a 2-day celebration of community, offering ways to improve our planet and its people.

By making responsible choices in our lives -- fair trade products over sweat shop labor, renewable resources over depleting the planet, organic products over pesticides and recycled materials over landfills -- we can enrich ourselves and nurture mother earth.

What struck me as most pleasing was the diversity of people who stopped to peruse our natural, organic and sustainable clothing. After that first irresistible touch, a common response was, “wow, this is bamboo?” Yet others seemed to seek it out. Telling their friends that once they wear bamboo, they’ll never go without. The organically grown, pesticide-free bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, wicking moisture and inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi that cause odor. That’s the functional benefit of it.

The fashionable benefit, is the array of flattering, sexy and modern silhouettes that feel oh so luxurious on our skin. Offered in pique pullovers, cashmere-like cardigans and flowing jersey knit dresses, bamboo appeals to many different tastes. It was such a treat to see the versatile styles modeled by beautiful women from dreadlocked college students to sophisticated retirees.

Details such as pointelle stitching, raglan sleeves and mother of pearl buttons add elegance while each piece easily adapts to an individual style. Regardless of body shape, age, or coloring the modern designs looked fabulous and unique on each fabulous and unique woman who wore them. Oh so chic and socially and environmentally responsible, too.

So having asked myself, “Am I here for the eco- or the couture?”, how nice to know that we can choose to have both. Choose to live large and leave a small footprint.

Green Festival will continue in the spring with stops in Seattle, Denver and Chicago.

31 October 2008

Today is your day, dress for it!

It’s finally here, the second most commercial holiday of the year, which also happens to be one of my favorites. The commercialism is frustrating, the chocolate is tempting, and the costumes are exhilarating. I love seeing the thought process with which our children choose them, I love to help make them and of course, I love to wear them. Each year a part of my wardrobe which spends 364 days of the year in a box in the attic takes a trip down the runways of our neighborhood sidewalks for that annual trick or treat fashion show.

It’s the thrill of the unknown. The surprise of, “who’s behind that mask?” and “what shall I be today?” One of my earliest and possibly best costumes wouldn’t have been possible without my very dear, old friend Jimmy Joe. Together we dressed as a horse. An old brown wool blanket with a few strategic stitches, a splayed rope tail, recycled leather pieces tied on our shoes, a yarn mane and perhaps the most amusingly comical mask ever found, completed our getup. Oh, and the defining element in our transformation from two kindergarteners to one silly horse -- Jimmy Joe’s ability to walk the parade route hinged at the waist. Yes, he bent forward and held around my waist creating a strong back and four fine legs of equine magnificence.

We have a closet under a staircase outfitted with a light, a mirror, plenty of hooks for hanging and baskets for stashing. It is our kids’ dress-up closet. At ages 2 and 6, they can create their own characters on any given day. Perhaps today they’ll be a fairy and a knight, a pirate and a princess, two fellow firefighters ... or something that I can’t quite figure out. They dress in old pillow cases with dish towels tied on their heads, paper crowns and feather boas. Sometimes I’m envious. Sometimes my daughter wants a “fancy dinner” which has nothing to do with food but must take place in the dining room with each of us wearing a fancy dress. I don’t do it often, but I still like to dress up.

My husband and I went to a wedding on the Jersey shore in August. I put a lot of thought into what I was wearing. Settled on a vintage Hawaiian black halter neck dress with a copper, gray and white graphic design on the floor-length skirt. I could have searched for 30 years and wouldn’t have found anything better than that dress that hung in my Aunt Fifi’s closet 30 some years ago. Aunt Fifi was quite the fashionista back in the days of what I consider the most fun fashion. Her attic has been a treasure trove of everything from poodle skirts to mini dresses and maxi skirts. My own dress-up closet, all grown up.

So on this All Hallows Eve, delve into your attic, break into the boxes and don the duds which reveal an otherwise unknown take on who you are, anyone you want to be. Because after all, it is only one day. Happy Halloween.

17 July 2008

Jonano Debuts Downunder

Jonano eco chic collections has announced their Down Under debut of Green and Serene collections that caters to the fashion-forward and eco savy set of today's style conscious woman. They are coming off a successful season of fashion shows and trade events and have just launched their new ecommerce website that hosts a video. Check it out at jonano.com