Fashioned From Nature: V&A curator Edwina Ehrman

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London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (“perhaps the world’s best dressing-up box” with an archive of more than 75,000 items of clothing) takes on sustainable fashion!

Thw new Fashioned From Nature exhibition includes amazing historical garments as well as contemporary fashion by the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Katherine Hamnett, Alexander McQueen, Christophers Kane and Raeburn, and Bruno Pieters. But most importantly, it looks at fashion’s eco footprint, and the massive impacts of textile production on the planet. What can we learn from the past to design a better fashion industry for the future?

Meet curator Edwina Erhman, who specialises in 19th Century fashion and textiles, and the history of London fashion, & has worked for many years for both the V&A & the Museum of London.

This is a quote from Emma Watson, who wrote the foreword for the book of the exhibition: “Regardless of our social or economic status, we can all dress and shop more mindfully and sustainably. It is so important & timely that we now re-conceptualise what it means to wear and consume and what is fashionable.”

Everyone’s talking about the 1860s muslin dress embroiderd with Indian beetle wings and the earrings made from hummingbird heads (ugh)...there are items on show that to modern eyes are really macabre, but at the time were considered gorgeous and exotic. Today's humman-made materials now use seem more benign, but are they?

You don’t have to see the exhibition to think about these issues, to see how they play out in history and in our present, and to ask yourself, how do I want stand in nature? What do I believe nature is for? Am I part of it? If I'm inspired by it, how can I knowingly damage it for something - beautiful clothes - that’s a luxury not a necessity? And what can we do to lessen fashion’s impact on nature, even to make it a positive one?

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