Happiness Is Fashion: What’s the Point?

I’ve watched eco-fashion’s sizzling new designer Christopher Raeburn‘s film for his Spring/Summer Dazzle collection of jackets made from redeployed parachute silk, over and over again. It’s a nebulous fashion moment that I can’t quite put my finger on.

There are fashion moments we’ve all connected to. When I first saw Alexander McQueen’s amazing hologram of Kate Moss, fat tears heaved out of me. And Jackie Kennedy’s decision to keep on her blood-splattered pink Chanel suit for Lyndon Johnson’s swearing in, affects me even as a Brit. Then there are personal fashion moments. The first time I laid eyes on an Ossie Clark dress, for instance. The genius in its bias-cut intuitively understood how to flatter my shape before even I had it figured out.

I went down to San Joaquin Valley to look at California’s cotton farms last week. My neighbor on the bus and I were talking about our emotional connections to our clothes. At first, she’d insisted her clothes were just a uniform. Then, she remembered a special piece that had some significance. Would she ever throw it away, I asked? Her eyes delighted me, as they fixed onto a far away gaze.

Back to the point, and there is one – although I’ve warned you this is pretty nebulous stuff. Another memorable personal fashion moment occurred this year, when I opened up Vogue’s August issue to see Blake Lively wearing Christopher Raeburn’s battledress wool inuit parka (shown below). Not only was it my first introduction to the talented designer. I realized that the eco-fashion movement had produced something that stood on its own design merits, a lone eco note among conventional fashions in the industry’s bible. That parka was really cool. And, I really, really wanted one.

Three months later – I still really, really want one, by the way – and Vogue is seemingly foaming green at the mouth with articles on Marni’s recycled drinking bottle necklace, a locally-made skin care line and Stella McCartney’s enchanting country estate. I think it’s really great. I noted the somewhat flimsy eco-provenance of some of the looks in the “Naturally Refined” layout, shot by Patrick Demarchelier, but I’ve decided that undermining ‘baby steps’ is not the point either.

Ironically enough, the environment isn’t the only victim to fashion’s mass market appetite. The industry’s creative talent suffers too. The “mega-corporations are making creativity more difficult every season. The struggle between the demands of marketing and the freedom and needs of the creative process, the pressure to constantly sell more and to keep upping the ante on the shows with more celebrities and always more press coverage, these are the things that are literally killing fashion” – someone else’s point, by the way.

There are lots of great ideas about what sustainable fashion needs to be defining and some inspired critical thinking – like this – about how to maneuver the luxury goods market.  If we want to produce  “heirlooms-in-waiting” as “an antidote to throwaway fashion,” we’ve go to embrace our emotional connection to clothes, and celebrate the industry’s creativity and aspirational fashion editorial – and the enduring desire it induces. It all matters. It’s all the point.

Back to Christopher Raeburn‘s cute little fashion moment – what do you think? I still haven’t really figured out why, but it makes me happy every time I watch it. And maybe, that’s the point too?


Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.