Vert Couture: Chicago’s Fashion Week Gone Green


Bianca and Michael Alexander, founders of Vert Couture, had their work cut out for them this past Sunday hosting Chicago’s first ever green fashion show. But with an already established track record in the sustainable field, the couple pulled it off with flying shades of green.

The husband and wife team, who recently migrated from California, have made the windy city more interesting with Conscious Living TV and Soul of Green. So producing Chicago’s debut sustainable design show was just another step in their progression towards sustainable.

Michael Alexander says he and his wife have a serious passion (bordering on addiction) for fabulous fashion that’s created consciously and sustainably. Vert Couture is their way of sharing this passion with the public.

“Seeing and meeting so many talented and committed eco-designers in our new home of Chicago, we wanted to support them by providing a platform to show the world their talent. We felt we could best serve them and the sustainability movement by producing arguably the hottest show of fashion week.”

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Bianca and Michael Alexander, founders of the Vert Couture eco-fashion show

Chicago’s conscious community, including Fashion Focus Chicago and the Chicago Fashion Foundation, helped sponsor the show where Mountains of the Moon, Vaute Couture, Bryant McLemore Smith, Frei Designs and students from the International School of Design and Technology featured the best of their Spring 2010 collections.

Melissa Baswell, designer of Mountains of the Moon, says the show has strengthened the connection between Chicago’s eco-designers.

“Annie Novotny of Frei Designs and I decided that we’re not stopping with Vert Couture. We want to organize monthly gatherings with some of our fellow Chicago eco-designers to brainstorm and help each other out.”


Melissa Baswell of Mountains of the Moon takes a stroll down the runway at Vert Couture

Baswell says that unlike traditional shows she’s been a part of, more factors were involved in Chicago since the show was produced as green as possible (the event was carbon neutral, featured organic and vegan drinks and hors d’oeuvres, had green sponsors, eco-friendly printed materials, and of course, sustainable designers).

“There were a variety of designers and a wide array of pieces shown. It was put together as a fashion show first and foremost, but it also educated people on the importance of sustainability, and included much more than just the runway show.”

Annie Novotny, founder of Frei Designs, says that being part of Vert Couture is just what designers have to do right now.

“It turns some people off, promoting yourself as an eco-designer. But it’s my choice to produce ethically. It’s never been a cool thing to do. So whether people are educated or not, whether or not they know about issues of waste and sustainability, I’m going to be part of something like this simply because it’s important,” says Novotny.

Sustainable designer Lara Miller didn’t show her line at Vert Couture, but did show during Fashion Focus at Macy’s Designers of Chicago last Thursday evening. Her line is carried in the Chicago Designer Shop at Macy’s on State street.


Lara Miller Spring 2010, at Fashion Focus (Photo by Michele Wayman)

Miller says that Chicago is getting more competitive with the other major fashion cities in the U.S., but thinks that Chicago, in general, is just different.

“We’re providing a different view, a different market and allowing our designers to grow while reaching out to other markets. I think that Chicago designers have a unique perspective on fashion and on the industry. We’re incredibly hard workers, we understand who we sell to, and first and foremost we’re good people who support each other and our garment manufacturers here in the city.

Not all of our businesses are about creating a stir or a groundbreaking trend. We’re about quality, individuality, and our customers. We each have our own individual message and brand identity. And I think that we’re all showing something different and creating trends in our own ways, some more than others, but the trends to me don’t matter as much as creating beautiful quality work that pleases our customers. Because while we’re designers at the end of the day, we’re also entrepreneurs, which means that we want to make our customers happy.”

Chicago and Vert Couture have certainly made me happy.

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.