Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Divine Inspiration

I really must learn more about Amish quilting. If there’s one thing the 5th annual Discarded to Divine gala firmly implanted in my mind is that inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. True, the students who crafted their masterpieces out of discarded duds received their inspiration in the form of the De Young Museum, but turning the simplicity of the Amish into a va-va-voom one shouldered bias-cut dress that hugs in all the right places takes a certain kind of talent. For FIDM Student Nicole Villa, it was the piercing of the bodice that the quilts inspired in her “Abstract Symmetry.” For student Taisja Maxfield, also from FIDM, her “Beaded Silk Tulip Dress” didn’t revert to the bold color palette used in many of the other Amish inspired pieces – instead she crafted a thoughtful and elegant party dress, that had I received a bidder number, would have tried my fiscal best for.

Not that my bid was particularly needed. The event, held in support of The St. Vincent De Paul Society, raised close to $80,000 between the silent and live auctions. The now annual event, brainchild of the Society’s Sally Rosen has become more than just a charity fashion show. It’s provided a platform to show firsthand how easy sustainable fashion can be. As supporters of the eco-fashion movement we know that a key part of dressing environmentally chic is learning how to reuse and rework what we already have. What better way to be inspired by those old pair of Banana Republic trousers in your closet than watching a belted trench coat fashioned together from two linen tablecloths be auctioned off in a fierce bidding war for $1500?

The Amish-inspired pieces represented just a fraction of the collection students and guest designers (including local designers Colleen Quen and Christopher Collins, Project Runway alumni Sweet Pea Vaughn and Jay Nicolas Sario, and the event’s winner for Best In Women’s Daywear, Coral Castillo) created for the competition. While Project Runway’s recent favorite Sario showed a military inspired vest for the live auction, his cocktail dress out of tweed and Fiji water bottles (yes really!) was the talk of the pre-show reception and the source of many flashbulbs in the room.

One of my favorites, the Dreamscape Waterfall dress by Joseph Singh took in only $300 during the auction, but its Japanese Tea Garden inspired shimmers and colors reminiscent of a Monet painting were truly spectacular, if not a little too tame for the crowd who cheered for the edgier styles. Castillo’s “Green Butterfly” took in $800 but with over fifty pieces of fabric used to sew the tunic-style dress, well worth the cost.

While most of the designers opted for dressier pieces, Dawn Castel’s “Lavender Silk Jacket with Border Panels” was a popular bid for its casual coolness and detail on the sleeves and hem. And there was even something for the kids. Nancy Martin’s winning “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” was so mod in its swinging shape and blue quilted hexagon pattern I’m kind of hoping for an adult version. Sally Rosen should now feel fully inducted into the fashion community at the creation of The “Sally” Bag by Ray Gin. Practical and sturdy, I feel a collection coming on. I can’t forget to mention the jewelry and eclectic pieces of home d├ęcor that were also included in the silent auction. There was room for pillows, scarves and even a set of repurposed potholders.

And should we forget the true purpose of the event, Sally Rosen came up with the idea after feeling disheartened over all of the donations that were too dirty or worn to make any use of. By showing the recipients who are often “discarded” by society that they too deserve respect and dignity, their lives have the chance to be renewed. So who thinks fashion is superficial?

Photos by Warren Difranco Hsu/After5Media

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Night Under the Dome for Sustainability

Join the Innovative Fashion Council and Fashion Group International under the "Dome" at the Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center for cocktails, music, trends, and the future of eco-fashion. A panel of key influencers and educators will lead a discussion on the relevance of sustainability in the industry and share the latest trends. Panelists include:

Margaret Sche - former head of Fashion Direction for Forever 21 and fashion editor for FOAM magazine. Sche works with global retailers, designers and manufacturers in developing niche markets through creative direction, business strategy and market forecasting. She has partnered with brands such as Tommy Hilfiger,The Sak and American Rag and her fashion styling images have appeared in publications such as InStyle, Vanity Fair, Surface, Teen Vogue and Nylon.

Lynda Grose - Co-founder of ESPRIT's ecocollection line and identified in 2008 by the Financial Times as one of the "green power brokers." As a practicing designer, consultant, and educator, Lynda has worked with clients ranging from artisans and farmers to nonprofits and clothing companies, including UNDP, The Sustainable Cotton Project, Aid to Artisans, Gap Inc, Market Place India, Patagonia, Green Peace, 13-mile Farm, and Shayan Craft Center.

Amy Williams - Current chair of CCA's innovative Fashion Design Program, Amy also served as senior lecturer for Fashion Design at Otis College of Art and Design and a lecturer at FIDM Los Angeles, where she was noted as "faculty member of the year." Her work as a designer has been photographed for WWD, California Apparel News, Active Sport, Vogue, Elle, and Glamour, to name a few.

Plans for San Francisco's first official "Fashion's Night Out" on November 18th will also be announced so don't miss out on this exciting event!

Date: Tuesday, May 18th
Time: 6-8:30pm
Place: The Dome, Westfield Mall - 865 Market Street, San Francisco

Reserve your spot by May 17th and order tickets here.