London label Mother of Pearl launches a new eco-conscious collection

Serious sustainability credentials collide with a playful aesthetic on chic summer dresses and separates

Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth faux-pearl-embellished, organic-silk Miles shirt, £570, and organic-silk Annabelle wrap skirt, £595
Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth faux-pearl-embellished, organic-silk Miles shirt, £570, and organic-silk Annabelle wrap skirt, £595

Amy Powney may seem like an unlikely figurehead for a fashion brand. The 34-year-old lived in a caravan for seven years while growing up in Lancashire and believes in only buying clothes when absolutely necessary. “My parents decided to live The Good Life,” she says of her off-grid upbringing. “My dad sunk a well for fresh water and electricity came from first a generator, later a wind turbine. It taught me to question where everything originates from and its impact on the environment.” 

Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth asymmetric organic-silk Millie dress, £995
Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth asymmetric organic-silk Millie dress, £995

It’s a perspective that has had an enduring effect on her role as a designer at east London-based womenswear label Mother of Pearl, which was launched in 2002 by Maia Norman (more widely known as the ex-partner of Damien Hirst) and has made its name with a combination of elegant shapes and unique in-house prints. Now creative director and partner, Powney has steered the brand in a sustainable direction. “There was a point when I would design 700 pieces a year. The demand for newness was so pressing that I considered leaving the industry,” she confesses. “Instead, I decided to slow things down and focus on the issues that mattered the most to me. I personally tracked down every step of our supply chain to ensure that it is fully ethical.” 

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In 2018 she added the No Frills line, with designs such as the ankle-skimming, sash-waisted Ellie shirtdress (£395) and striped, statement-cuffed Chester shirt (£195) made from organic cotton produced using reduced water. Each piece can be “traced from field to final”, with the individual ethical credentials all listed on the Mother of Pearl website. Her latest eco-conscious collection was produced in collaboration with BBC Earth and was introduced by a short film at London Fashion Week earlier this year. The just-launched range, available exclusively through Net-a-Porter, consists of nine chic pieces – dresses and separates that have Mother of Pearl’s signature offbeat spin, with asymmetric hemlines and mismatched prints. The Miles shirt (£570) and Annabelle wrap skirt (£595) have a half-polka-dot, half-plain fabrication that is perfectly compatible, while the Millie dress (£995), with its off-kilter hem and long gathered sleeves, is half plain peachy pink and half polka dot. All items are made from what Powney calls “peace silk” – produced without killing the silk worms and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. The next step, says Powney, is to make the entire collection eco-friendly – “for spring/summer 2020. We are almost there.”  

Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth organic-silk Julia wrap dress, £795
Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth organic-silk Julia wrap dress, £795

Alyson Walsh is the author of Know Your Style, published by Hardie Grant, £12.99. She blogs as That’s Not My Age. To read more of her How To Spend It columns, click here.

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