The Green Carpet Collection is one of starry sustainability campaigner Livia Firth’s bright ideas – highly limited, beautiful items with every facet certified ethical. Past collections (with designers such as Stella McCartney) have been snapped up, so the latest effort is a little wider in scope, but still very carefully targeted.
Firth asked Erdem Moralioglu, arguably the most romantically minded of British-based designers, to collaborate on a capsule collection of evening dresses that would meet all the criteria demanded by her consultancy, Eco-Age. He had made two dresses, along with four other London designers, for the GCC two years ago – and, as a grand occasion favourite with everyone from Hollywood A-listers to royalty, he was the immediate choice for an independent collection. “His dresses are timeless – you can keep them your whole life, which is sustainability in action,” says Firth. “They’re about quality and craft, not passing trends, and I’m in love with his feminine style. We decided to launch the range at the Wallace Collection, which was a great inspiration for him. He didn’t know a lot about sustainability to start with – his studio worked closely with our consultants and everyone learnt.”
Erdem enjoyed “finding out more as we went along, like the fact that the Dutch mill that prints our silk is already certified for its use of inks that are free from hazardous chemicals, and saving on water and energy”. Eco-Age’s demands are stringent – down to the making of the silk used for some dresses (utilising methods that reduce chemical pollution) and using fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. Erdem added brocade and lace in his archive from previous collections – “I love the synergy between recycling and innovative new fabrics”, he says. “We were pointed in the right direction and then pushed the mills to try new things – we’ll take the ideas forward and revisit them. Working with the Wallace Collection was wonderful, from pictures of icons like Marie Antoinette to wall hangings and silk wallpaper that I just wanted to take down and make into garments.”
Each design in the collection of a dozen dresses expresses Erdem’s love of flattering, feminine shapes, romantic and historical details, and delicately sumptuous fabrics – especially silk print, lace and brocade. These future treasures vary from the short Leola dress (£2,940, first picture) in certified silk gazar and organic organza to the grand and strapless Alina (£8,960, second picture) in a complex mix of recycled-bottle duchesse satin, certified silk, archive brocade and lace and hand embroidery.
Two styles – Leola and Betty (£1,665) – arrived at Erdem’s recently opened Mayfair store on Wednesday November 25. For worldwide scope, five different dresses, including Alina, will go on Net-a-Porter at the beginning of December and a further four items will arrive at Barneys in New York. Each is in varying but always small quantities, limited by the amounts of archive fabrics, handmade lace and time-consuming embroidery (all done in London) available. Rarely in fashion has the term heirloom quality been more appropriate, and that makes Firth’s point exactly.