London designer Gary Harvey opened The Green Shows at New York Fashion Week tonight with a runway presentation that was something of a landfil rescue mission. Constructing dresses wholly out of reused materials such as Financial Times newspapers, checkered laundry bags, skin cream packages, nylon baseball jackets, and army surplus, Harvey creates whimsical, dramatic and tactile pieces that may not be eminently wearable but do create a stir.
Called Recycled Icons with the tagline "Fashion With A Conscience", various symbolic pieces whose value has withstood the test of time were represented: denim jeans, checked shirts, military jackets, trench coats, white t-shirts, and nylon baseball jackets are reincarnated here as they are season after season by countless designers in a less literal way.
Pioneering eco-designer Katharine Hamnett provided the 20 organic t-shirts bearing slogans like "Choose Life" and "Save the World" that came together in the White T-shirt Dress. Contrasting with the drama and boldness of the garments was the practical and utilitarian ethos behind them. Besides the newspaper dress, all looks were constructed using materials known to last and that often end up in landfill when they are seen to have outlived their "usefulness" even though they have decades of wear left in them.
Harvey was Creative Director at Levi Strauss for almost ten years. Of the Denim Dress constructed from 42 pairs of 501s, Harvey notes: "Jeans are often discarded for the next latest silhouette before the end of their 'useful' life. Of the Military Dress made from 28 army jackets: "Military clothing is designed to withstand heavy-duty combat and last for many years."