PARIS — Throughout much of the Nineties, it wasn’t easy being green, with environmental consciousness taking a backseat to sleek modernity.
But suddenly, "eco" is looming again as the new black, with European architects and industrial designers leading the charge with a range of products and projects, from biodegradable cutlery to a tent-like house that blends in with the landscape.
There’s even a magazine, Organic Style, devoted to the movement. Peggy Northrop, editor in chief of the year-old Rodale publication, said the title was inspired by a hunch, with subsequent research proving "people were looking for ways to lead stylish, beautiful lives in good conscience."
She linked heightened interest in eco-friendly products to growing consumer awareness of personal and environmental health. But also, thanks to the work of architects and industrial and fashion designers, consumers are no longer forced to compromise style for products that are environmentally friendly. She cited Giorgio Armani’s hemp clothing, Arking Tilt Architects’ bathroom counters made of recycled glass bottles and the popularity of bamboo flooring as examples.
The Eco-Design Handbook, published this year in the U.K. by Thames & Hudson, ranks as the new manifesto for environmentally aware design. In it, author Alastair Fuad-Luke calls for designers to "reappraise their role in the production of fashionable lifestyle products or at least strive to minimize the impact of these ephemeral goods, by concentrating on durable, multiuser, multipurpose designs."
Industrial designer Tom Dixon has long been a proponent of the movement. Famous for his work for design firms such as Habitat, Cappellini and Eurolounge, Dixon has used high-tech, yet environmentally gentle materials like galvanized steel and polyethylene for more than a decade.
He also came out with a book entitled "Rethink," which encourages readers to review the materials around them and reuse them in creative, functional and economical ways. Among his do-it-yourself suggestions: use wood cargo pallets for decking or a bed base or a halogen utility lamp for pivotable and adjustable lighting for a living room.
Eco design is turning up in surprising places. Even fashionable caterers are in tune with the earth.
Milan-based caterer Pandora Box, whose clients include Romeo Gigli, Roberto Cavalli and Vivienne Westwood, is prized for its use of biodegradable and recycled materials. Pandora design manager Daniela Danzi said it’s "a reaction to a world of plastic items that we were forced to use but never liked." Pandora’s cleverly packaged cutlery kits come in bamboo or starch-based varieties, supposedly made of pasta, neither of which depletes natural resources.The Greenage boutique, a recent addition to Paris’ posh Rue du Bac, takes eco design a step further. It showcases Ceralin, a plant-based material that is transformed into chic and useful home accessories and tableware such as lamps and candleholders. The boutique even solicited guest designer firms like Tsé Tsé and Martin Szekely to experiment with the materials.
Further afield, French architect François Roche and his colleagues at R&Sie (pronounced "heresy") are at the forefront of a movement to create structures that co-exist with nature. Their Maison Barak in the south of France boasts a green tent-like form that follows the topography of the ancient stone wall around which it was built. The $146,000 home is made of polyurethane panels and boasts an eco-friendly heating system.
Northrop stressed that consumers no longer need to sacrifice style to help the environment. Dixon agreed: "It’s the designer’s job to make the products appealing, fashionable and wanted."
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion