Founded six years ago, the Esthetica exhibition reflects the growing movement of cutting edge designers committed to ethical fashion. At the heart of Somerset House, 15 designers showcase their work based on Esthetica’s principles using organic and recycled materials, fair trade and ethical practices.
Designers who stood out for their diversely imaginative approaches within their field were Bruno Pieters, Max Jenny, Diana Auria and Mich Dulce.
Bruno Pieters label, Honest by, produces limited edition products that are extensively researched and presented to the customer detailing every component, including the carbon footprint. Combining his sartorial panache with a passion for ethical trading, Pieters hand-woven, organic pieces are a thing of beauty as well as pride. Highlights included sharply tailored bomber jackets covered in checks, stripes and spots, feminine couture finished dresses, and water-coloured shirts.
Next door, Max Jenny provided another hit of colour with her oversized, graphic printed raincoats made from recycled plastic bottles, and super soft leggings constructed from recycled tinsel.
Diana Auria collaborated with illustrator Margot Bowman for her first full swimwear collection inspired by two very different concepts; the Greek goddess Artemis and Baywatch. All ethically sourced and created with recycled fishing nets and carpets, her acidic candy bikini sets and one-piece suits covered in feathered arrows are just the right side of kitch.
Last but by no means least is milliner Mich Dulce, whos humanitarian vision and commitment to socially conscious fashion is highly commendable. Each piece in her enchanting collection is hand woven using T’nalak – a traditional fabric made from banana fibres – by women from the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, a Philippine-based poverty alleviation and nation building movement. Her seasonally colourful offerings for SS13 combine animist imagery with fairy tale ideas, modern iconography and her signature bows.
Words and images by Amy Elizabeth Hill