Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Meeting of the Greens

Leaders and innovators in the San Francisco environmental community met and mingled at the Bently Reserve last Thursday for the first annual “Common Green” event. Sponsored by the Bently Reserve and Orchard Hotels, the IFCSF had a chance to meet with approximately 200 like-minded collaborators in the stunning LEED-certified space. The key speaker for the night was Wade Crowfoot, formerly the Director of Climate Protection under Mayor Newsom, and now the West Coast Political Director for the Environmental Defense Fund. Zem Joaquin, founder of and recipient of the 2009 Global Green Millenium Founder’s Award introduced the event’s hosts Chris and Amber-Marie Bently and Stefan Mühle from Orchard Hotels.

Stefan talked about the challenging, yet personally fulfilling feat of running a completely eco-friendly hotel. What I found most compelling was his idea of the “triple bottom line”, where you take care of the social, environmental and economical aspects. When these aspects are aligned your business can be a true powerhouse. The Orchard Garden Hotel is referred to as a “green boutique” hotel with eco-friendly guestrooms and restaurants featuring local and organic ingredients. Not a bad place to stay for a stylish eco-ista.

Crowfoot, whose leadership with Newsom helped to put San Francisco on the map as a leader in solving the global environmental crisis, was instrumental in the city’s invitation to participate in the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Crowfoot framed his talk by asking us to think back through the last five years and how far we’ve come as a country in facing the crisis. He described his time working in the Mayor’s office as a “bright light in an otherwise dark space in the U.S. “ It’s truly the cities that need to play a key part in fixing the environment, and cities like San Francisco and the state of California are leading the way. He likened the great work accomplished here during the last administration to being inside a “bubble during a troubling time. “

Crowfoot spoke very strongly of the need to take advantage of the opportunity we have with the new administration to make a difference for the environment, and how crucial the next four months leading up to Copenhagen are in making lasting environmental change. Essentially, if the conference is going to come up with an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases to sustain life on this planet, the U.S. must step up prior to December. The way to do that is to legislate the Clean Energy and Security Act. Already passed by the House and endorsed by President Obama, the bill needs 60 affirmatives from the Senate. If the bill doesn’t pass during this session, Crowfoot said, “then all bets are off.” He encouraged us not only sign those email petitions, but to use our business voices to talk to undecided Senators. Want to find out more about this legislation? Click here.

Speaking with Amber-Marie Bently after the presentation, it sounds like Common Green will be back for another event in the near future. For news and updates, join A Common Green on Facebook.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fashion On The Square Brings New York Couture to San Francisco

San Francisco is still struggling with putting on a fashion week event that rings true to the spirit of its local designers and community. The recent Fashion On The Square event held at the Intercontinental Hotel the weekend of July 25th was a valiant attempt at connecting the world of fashion with art at a local level. The daytime events included a series of seminars on fashion trends, red-carpet hair and makeup, and of great interest here to the IFCSF, the role of eco-design. On Sunday afternoon there was a children and teen runway show from local brand giants Gymboree, Old Navy, Gap and Janie and Jack.

The main event on Saturday night was a couture show featuring New York-based designer B Michael. While Mayor Gavin Newsom wrote a proclamation declaring July 25th B Michael Day” in the city, I was a bit perplexed with how this represented San Francisco fashion. That aside, the collection was beautiful and the event did raise money for local charities Wardrobe for Opportunity, K.I.D.S. and Fashion Delivers.

Fashion On the Square’s Founder & Creative Director Y’Anad Burrell led the night’s festivities with help from View from the Bay’s Janelle Wang and Denise Bradley (formerly of MoAD). The show opened with a presentation by fashion student Erik Stultz from three different collections, featuring menswear, lingerie and couture. Stultz gave a strong showing, especially with the corseted pieces from the second collection that were said to be inspired by the coral reefs for colors and textures and the circus for their silhouettes. Soon to graduate from the Art Institute of California, Stultz’s experience came across in the confidence of his designs.

Completely unexpected and magical, guests were treated to a brief interlude by two dancers (and later models) from the Alonzo King's LINES Ballet. I was dazzled with the way they glided across the runway and even more so when I later saw the female dancer modeling b.michael designs En pointe. This show of artistry was closer to the type of diversions one might expect at the major shows in New York and Paris. And a perfect introduction to B Michael – showing almost 30 looks from his Fall 2009 collection these clothes are for women headed to the big house – and I do mean the White House. One coat in Peridot green cashmere was created for a woman with connections to the Obamas– Poet Lauriat Elizabeth Alexander who was commissioned and read the poem at the Inauguration. Classic silhouettes in expensive fabrics never go out of style. But don’t think B Michael is all business. There is celebration in his work, whether in a fitted sheath dress with a seam of flirtatious fringe down the side or his finale piece, a robin’s egg blue trumpet gown with cashmere lace and a matching shrug framed with feathers.

Every piece featured luxurious fabrics and exquisite detailing. It’s not hard to believe that before fashion, B Michael was an account executive for a Wall Street firm where he must have catered to a clientele who demanded only the best for their money. The “ladies who lunch” have found their next designer and San Francisco’s social set is ready for him.