Artist Reinvents Chanel's Classic Dress in Leaves and Flowers


These dresses bring new meaning to the words natural and sustainable. A gentle take on the LBD (little black dress), the little green dresses are made out of leaves and flowers, as part of the Earth Art exhibition at Vancouver's VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

Nicole Dextras is a Canadian environmental artist who works with nature. This gorgeous project takes its inspiration from Chanel's classic sleeveless dress. Subtitled "Wear it and Compost it", each of the 28 dresses is being created on site at the museum from locally sourced plants.

The dresses will be left on display outside, to decompose over time. Since the project started in July, many of the early dresses have lost leaves and have changed colour, which only makes them more beautiful as they follow the natural fate of the plants.


They are made to measure for invited women who made suggestions about the flowers that they would like to be used. Over one hundred leaves can be used in a dress. This one features buddleja flowers, walnut leaves and a cedar skirt.


This beauty includes Arabacum Star of Bethlehem, purple, blue and white Hydrangea, Gooseneck Loosetrife, Tibetan Honeysuckle and Ivy. Many of these flowers were left over from a wedding in the garden.


This one is made of Lavender, Lamb’s Ears. Dandelion, Cunninghamia (China-fir). You can see that it is already starting to age, beautifully.


Each time a new creation is completed, it is listed on Dextras' website. As you can see, they are quite addictive. This lovely one is created from Tansy, Trumpet flower, Ivy, Feathers.

It's not easy to make them. You start with a dressmaker's model, made out of seagrass (the twisted rope going horizontally) and basketry reed (vertical lines). Plant materials are attached by placing the stem through the seagrass, overlapped and held together with a thorn.You have to calculate the number of leaves, flowers, plants required. For example, Laurel leaves are 3” wide, so 125 to 150 leaves are needed.

Artist Reinvents Chanel's Classic Dress in Leaves and Flowers
These gorgeous little green dresses on view in Vancouver are created from locally sourced plants.

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