Environmental art doesn't necessarily have to be restricted to a pile of rocks stacked together by Andy Goldsworthy -- it can also take the form of wearable, fashionable and socially engaged garments too.
Made with fruits, weeds, flowers and leaves, 'Weedrobes' is the delightful series of meticulously detailed, perishable gowns, coats and suits by Canadian environmental artist Nicole Dextras. Striking a careful balance between style and commentary, the message behind Weedrobes' is aimed squarely at the not-always-so-sustainable practices of the fashion industry, while also redefining the perceived immortality of haute couture.
Dextras' garments begin life as plants harvested from a variety of places, ranging from areas affected by invasive species to specimens from Dextras' own garden.
After constructing her pieces, Dextras photographs each Weedrobe with a model and they are sent out to "engage the public" by interacting with passerby. Afterwards, each garment is left to be 'reclaimed' and to decompose naturally.
Dextras' extensive array of natural materials is a veritable gardener's delight, including yucca leaves, wild red rose, camellia, willow, hydrangeas, crab apples, kale, rosehips, laurels and thorns to pierce components together. She also uses invasive species like Japanese knotweed to call into question our attitudes toward certain species.
Dextras also weaves leaves together to create her clothing, allowing the shape of the plants to inform the specific pattern.
And no flowery outfit is complete without a pair of leafy shoes, fit for the human version of faerie-folk.
Though it may seem to be a little too fun to be serious, Weedrobes is not just some off-the-cuff project. Dextras' view on fashion is from the inside, with a deep personal history with fashion beginning from her childhood memories of her mother's clothing store, and Dextras' own employment in non-union sweatshop, where she witnessed firsthand the poor working conditions and the chemicals used in the process.
Ultimately, the point of these ephemeral robes is to get people to see past the glamorous exterior and at the larger life cycles behind the fashion industry. According to Dextras:
The Weedrobes philosophy is based on being a free thinker, creating one's own sense of style while also raising awareness about the impact of industry on our eco-system. Our most effective tool for change is for consumers to demand more equitable products. It may be impractical to wear clothing made with leaves but our future depends on the creation of garments made from sustainable resources.
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