Free-flowing libations, hors d'oeurvres by acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud, a coveted location, and more pretty people per square foot than a girl like me has ever seen in real life. Sounds like a typical fashion week party, right? Sure, except for the fact that the drinks were mixed with VeeV (a clear spirit made from acai berries) instead of vodka, waiters passed trays of savory vegetarian profiteroles instead of pigs in blankets, and the sparkling pink and white boutique where the party took place was chosen not only for the lovely and ethereal pieces it displays, but also for Stella McCartney's innovative use of sustainable materials. In fact, each detail, from the lotions that went in the swag bags to the butter-hued floral arrangements by Adore Floral, was meticulously hand-selected by the event-planning team at group SJR and STATE PR (which I was lucky enough to be a part of) to reflect the vision of eco-consciousness that the soiree's guest of honor, Summer Rayne Oakes, presents in her new book, Style, Naturally: The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty (Chronicle Books).
Summer, an eco-model, activist and writer, looked radiant in a shimmering gold & navy Stella McCartney cocktail dress that challenged the common misconception that environmentally sound clothing and accessories are all made of out drab hemp or straw. It is often said that stereotypes have their roots in the truth, but glancing around the room, there was not one person who looked anything close to a "hippie." Notable guests such as actor Josh Pais, Julie Gilhart (Barneys), CNN Business of Green host Olivia Zaleski (pictured below, with Summer Rayne Oakes / Photo by Patrick McMullan), socialite Melissa Berkelhammer, Elisa Lipsky-Karasz (WWD), Monique Pean (Ecco Domani Fashion Fund accessories winner) and eco-designer Bahar Shahpar were attired chicly, many of them wearing designers from the pages of Style, Naturally, in anything from flowy floral dresses to full-on tweed haberdashery to tailored babydoll tunics with frilly bloomers. With the exception of one young guest who was asked to remove her fur jacket in order to enter the fur-free event, the outfits of these fashionistas and eco-luminaries seemed right at home next to the couture Stella McCartney pieces that remained on display throughout the party.
It was clear that eco-fashion had a brand new look a good one.
But all of this didn't just happen by accident. In fact, you could say it was "by design." Summer, who recently spoke at a panel discussion for the revolutionary new C.L.A.S.S. eco-materials showroom which offers fashion designers a chance to scope out the latest in sustainable textiles, emphasized that while many corporations today greenwash their products to make them more appealing to consumers, she would take the opposite path. By greendirtying (don't worry if you've never seen this word before because I just made it up) her environmental causes, that is linking them to fashion, entertainment and other mainstream interests, she plans to reach many more people than possible through just the bare facts and products alone. The best manifestation of this philosophy coming to fruition is Ms. Oakes' new line with Payless, zoe & zac, which will bring eco-footwear to a demographic that may not have had access to it before. Another popular and effective form of greendirtying is celebrity spokespersons for the green movement.
So should we all be jumping on the greendirtying bandwagon? Personally, I can't see why we wouldn't want to. So what if you decide to start carrying your own chopsticks instead of using disposable ones because you saw some early adopters doing it at a party? The end result is that you'll create less waste, and possibly influence others who see you doing it! My prediction for 2009 is that we will see a lot more greendirtying at fashionable eco-events with much better results than banner ads on a website or TV commercials alone could inspire.
Check out Style, Naturally at stylenaturally.com to see how you can "look good while doing better."
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