In a progressive move, the 2019 Helsinki Fashion Week introduced a ban on animal leather, which took place in the Finnish capital from 19 to 22 July, with designers instead encouraged to work with plant-based leathers and other sustainable textiles and eco-friendly supply chains.
Fashion “needs to rapidly develop” beyond animal leather says Helsinki Fashion Week founder Evelyn Mora. Believing that the fashion industry should expect a major upheaval, as customers start to demand more eco-friendly products, fashion designers and brands need to start swapping animal leather for sustainable alternatives, or risk alienating themselves from consumers, she explained.
Image courtesy: New York-based brand Ultrafabrics, which manufactures a range of innovative leather-like materials.
“I think that in the near future there’s going to be a big shift,” she told Dezeen. “Everybody is going to take a big leap towards sustainable fashion.”
“Right now we are all talk, everybody is talking about how important sustainability is, but we need to see results.”
“The companies have to go where the money is, and that’s where the consumers are – they are changing their minds and they’re starting to be more conscious,” said Mora.
Image courtesy: Evelyn Mora, 27, founder of Helsinki Fashion Week
The aim of this year’s event, according to Mora, was to send a message to the industry that it can no longer ignore the impact that leather farming has on the environment, particularly its contribution to climate change. She wants Helsinki Design Week to go beyond the traditional role of a fashion event and become a platform that facilitates change through innovation.
To celebrate the creativity on display, Mora named the five designers that made the biggest impression, presenting designs that brought together innovative new textiles, recycled materials and ethical manufacturing practices:
Image courtesy: Shohei | Wongwannawat
Austrian fashion house Shohei was among those that took notice. Its show featured textiles from New York-based brand Ultrafabrics, which manufactures a range of innovative leather-like materials.
Image courtesy: ABCH
Led by designer Courtney Holm, ABCH promotes the circular economy in every collection. The Melbourne-based label only uses raw materials that naturally biodegrade or can be reused, and operates a recycling programme that helps to prevent old garments going into landfill.
Belgian designer Mandali Mendrilla is trying to encourage a sustainable mindset in her collections by only using vegetarian-friendly materials and combining these with a process she calls Yantra Couture, which involves creating custom patterns based on natural vibrations. At Helsinki Fashion Week, the designer presented brightly coloured garments made using both recycled silk and peace silk, along with natural dyes and the dust of 16 crystals.
Image courtesy: Kata Szegedi | Wongwannawat
Often using custom-made and recycled vintage fabrics in her designs, Hungarian designer Kata Szegedi brings greater transparency to the manufacturing process. Her latest collection sees her textiles transformed into immaculately tailored suits, dresses and playsuits.
The event also featured an exhibition from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which is developing a leather substitute made from mushroom mycelium, and a space called the Bio Playground, where brands showcased pioneering materials and responsible supply chains.
Mora launched Helsinki Fashion Week in 2012, aged just 22. Featuring both Nordic and international designers, the event had a focus on sustainable fashion from the start, although this year’s was the first to introduce a leather ban.
adidas by Stella McCartney Pilot Fully Recyclable Hoodie
The new sustainable initiative by adidas by Stella McCartney turns waste into usable fibres in the coolest of ways by using liquified old cotton to create sustainable sportswear.
The two pioneering brands have teamed up with innovative sustainable company Evrnu to turn old clothing into new garments in an attempt to address waste in the fashion industry. The prototype represents the world’s first fully recyclable hoodie, one of two prototypes for the new collection and major progress for sustainable fashion.
The new clothing line uses a technology called NuCycl, which purifies and liquefies old cotton and transforms it into new material ready to be made into adidas x stella mccartney sports-luxe clothes. Stacy Flynn, co-founder and CEO of Evrnu says, “our goal is to convert that garment waste into new fibre so that we eliminate the context of waste in the supply chain.”
Image courtesy: adidas by Stella McCartney ‘Infinite Hoodie’ and Biofabric Tennis Dress
To avoid weakening the original fabrics, Evrnu uses the chemical-based NuCycl process to break down the cotton to its original polymer. Once the polymers are extracted and are a liquid pulp they are put into a 3D-printer-like machine which forms new yarn, which will be used to make the sustainable line of adidas by Stella McCartney garments.
Pieces such as the “Infinite Hoodie” incorporate a jacquard knit comprised of 60 per cent NuCycl™ regenerated fibre and 40 per cent organic cotton that has been diverted from landfills, which when combined creates a stronger and more durable compound than the original fabric. The inaugural NuCycl pieces will be produced in a limited run of 50, which will all be given to athletes.
Image courtesy: adidas x Stella McCartney
This is the second drop, with the first being a pioneering 100% biodegradable biofabric adidas tennis dress. Created in combination with Bolt Threads – a company specialising in bioengineered sustainable materials and fibres, including a leather alternative made using mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms – the dress is made from cellulose blended yearn and Microsilk, a protein-based material made using renewable ingredients such as sugar, water and yeast, and has the ability to fully biodegrade at the end of its life.
In a statement, Stella McCartney says: “Fashion is one of the most harmful industries to the environment. We can’t wait any longer to search for answers and alternatives.
“By creating a truly open approach to solving the problem of textile waste, we can help empower the industry at large to bring more sustainable practices into reality.
“With adidas by Stella McCartney we’re creating high performance products that also safeguard the future of the planet.”
The Stella Mccartney adidas partnership is a long-standing one, dropping hyper desirable pieces that have included Stella McCartney trainers including the Stella McCartney Ultra Boost.
Made in partnership with textile innovations company Evrnu, the hoodie is designed to be reused and remade in the future.
Currently just 50 hoodies have been made and gifted to adidas VIPs and influencers, but there’s nothing to say they won’t hit the production lines soon so watch this space.
Plus, should either of these products ever reach mass production, such items would create a loop in which fashion products would suddenly be capable of biodegrading and returning to the natural ecosystem. Oh, what a day!
Fashionable Female Villains You Can’t Help But Love
Turning to the dark side often comes complete with a killer wardrobe, dramatic beauty looks and a role that steals the show from the heroine.
Defying the stereotypical depiction of women on screen, these female villainesses packed quite a punch and have become icons in their own right, unaided – or perhaps even, unhindered – by men, with their unapologetic agency speaking for itself. Wearing clothes that were both stylish and dominant, each villainess was as assertive as they were powerful. The fact that they were evil was by the by.
Female villains were always the best characters. So, in celebration of spooky season, we’ve picked out our favourites; empowered, ballsy, interesting, stylish women characters, who stole the screen.
Image courtesy: BBC
Villanelle (Jodie Comer) – Killing Eve
Killing Eve, the BBC’s hit assassin-spy drama, Eve (Sandra Oh) is a slightly dappy MI5 officer who becomes obsessed with the mysterious assassin Villanelle; and Villanelle (Jodie Comer), a highly skilled and psychopathic killer, becomes obsessed with Eve in return. Eve often wears baggy trousers, loose and unstructured coats. She loses her luggage. She doesn’t have her shit together. Villanelle, in comparison, has a fancy apartment in Paris and a killer wardrobe that veers from pretty brocade tailoring to pussy bow blouses and that voluminous Molly Goddard dress.
Villanelle is also challenging the queer/straight wardrobe code, flouncing around in traditionally feminine fashions while plotting her daring, cold-hearted kills.
Image courtesy: Rex Features
O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) – Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2
Female baddies are often the best dressed characters. Sharp, tailored suits, cigarette holders, heels, single-dom. It’s played out again and again in film and TV. One movie franchise that celebrates fearless heroines better than anyone is Quentin Tarantino’s legendary Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2. The director has created some of the most empowered female characters on-screen. Powerful and intimidating women protagonists, they are also styled to perfection.
As the half-Chinese, half-Japanese head of the Tokyo underworld, O-Ren Ishii rules with an iron fist. A ruthless assassin and one of the most challenging nemeses The Bride has to conquer before getting to Bill, their epic showdown at the end of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is perhaps the best fight sequence in all of Tarantino’s movies and one where she manages to keep her white kimono pristine even after a sword fight.
Image courtesy: Rex Features
Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) – Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and 2
She may poison her enemies without flinching, but Kill Bill’s Elle Driver does so in the crispest of nurses’s outfits, complete with fine tailoring.
Image courtesy: Rex Features
Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) – Batman Returns
An awkward introduction of many a teenager to a world of fetish and BDSM, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman caused a sensation and no small amount of controversy when Tim Burton’s Batman Returns premiered in 1992. While the audience expected another superhero movie, Burton gave them a disturbingly dark gothic fairytale that caused some amount of unease among the viewers.
The same can be said about Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Selina Kyle, a frumpy (yet obviously stunning) personal assistant of the ruthless tycoon Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). After she learns about his latest illegal venture, Shreck tries to kill Selina by throwing her from the building. But Selina miraculously survives and vows revenge. Armed with a whip and dressed in a self-made black vinyl catsuit (that looks more haute couture than DIY), Pfeiffer’s Catwoman walks the line between alluring and disturbing. And when she falls in love with the mysterious billionaire Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), it’s hard to say which of them seems more broken inside.
Image courtesy: Disney
Maleficent – Sleeping Beauty
There’s plenty of great villains in Disney’s rogues gallery but of late, one of them has gained more attention than her rivals – the evil sorceress Maleficent from the 1959 Disney animated film Sleeping Beauty. A 2014 live-action film tries to portray her as a misunderstood protagonist with a tragic past, played by Angelina Jolie.
In the 1959 version, Maleficent (voiced by and modelled on actress Eleanor Audley) is unabashedly evil. Building on a witch image established by MGM’s Wizard of Oz, Disney’s animators designed Maleficent as a unnaturally pale woman with a sharp nose dressed entirely in black. But where Evil Witch of the West is cackling menace, Maleficent is regal and vindictive. Oh, and she can turn into a gigantic black dragon! Elegantly evil at its best, and has become recognised as one of the best animated films ever made.
Image courtesy: Source unknown
Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) – Natural Born Killers
Co-written by Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone’s satirical crime film Natural Born Killers follows Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis), a pair of psychopathic lovers, as they murder people all over USA. Juliette Lewis’ portrayal is freaky yet electrifying. And, her 90’s ensembles make it all the better!
Image courtesy: Rex Features
Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) – Basic Instinct
Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct. In it, troubled police detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) investigates a murder of a rock star which may have been committed by the smart, sexy, sociopathic and bisexual novelist Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone). Despite all the corpses piling up around Catherine, Curran begins a steamy affair with her, with deadly consequences.
A little white dress, stiletto heels and, famously, nothing else made Stone’s Catherine Tramell go down in history as one of cinema’s most seductive femme fatales.
Image courtesy: Rex Features
Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) – Mommie Dearest
Scandal may be the only thing Hollywood loves almost as much as money. In 1978, Christina Crawford published Mommie Dearest, a scandalous memoir about her childhood as an adopted daughter of the Academy Award-winning actress Joan Crawford.
Naturally, Hollywood jumped on an opportunity to adapt such a juicy narrative into a film. Paramount Pictures found its Joan Crawford in Faye Dunaway, another Academy Award-winning actress. In Mommie Dearest, Dunaway utterly commits to a role of a monstrously egotistical movie star that’s quite possibly insane. Released in 1981, the movie was met with mixed reviews due to its sordid nature. Since then, its over-the-top villainess has turned Mommie Dearest into something of a cult film.