Designing Change, a Short film

I am so proud to have worked with the brilliant duo – Suzy Amis Cameron and Brandon Hickman, to co-produce the short video, Designing Change.

This entire short focuses on Red Carpet Green Dress, the sustainable fashion campaign founded by Suzy Amis Cameron. We are officially on IMDB now too. Watch the video which includes my interviews with Dame Vivienne Westwood and Tommy Crawford, former Greenpeace Marketing Director, full credits after the jump. Admittedly sharing footage behind the scenes from our project was a nerve wracking prospect, especially when you are sharing about a cause that can easily put you into the soap box demographics…but  it was really important that we shared this, in line with our motto of being transparent. Before winning myself in 2010, I am ashamed to admit that I was blithely unaware of sustainability beyond knowing that a) it existed and b) it might have something to do with hemp. Shameful now, now I know you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Working with Dame Vivienne Westwood is like being woken up with freezing water because there is somewhere you need to be, quickly. She gets you up and out and it’s refreshing, once you get over the numbing shock. She does not settle for less than your best, she confronts you to ask questions about every single thing around you (I remember her asking me to name 3 species of trees or 5 species of flowers in my local park, and then asking me why I wouldn’t know this, time to stop being a petextrian). You end up walking away with a severe case of conversational remorse.  She is, to me, the living embodiment of someone walking the walk and not simply paying lip service. I’ve never heard her tear another woman down (the mark of a true, authentic feminist to me) and we all loved her closing clip at the end of our short video too.

I remember meeting the team at Greenpeace for the first time, including my friend Valeria Coco Botte (who has now gone on to found the rather fabulous Top Social) as we worked with them to ensure our gown met their detox fashion criteria. I remember interviewing Tommy Crawford, former of Creative Director at Greenpeace International and the Detox Fashion movement, for those not in the know, focuses on getting brands to eliminate chemicals – also known as the ‘little monsters’ – which can break down to form hormone disrupting substances when released into the environment, as well as some other nasties, needless to say, the effects of these chemicals on young, old and able-bodied biospheres can be detrimental. The footage seen in our short of the waterways running purple, green and yellow is beyond shocking as children play downstream or women wash clothes. I remember hearing about a saying going around the locals in Ghangzhou, “You can tell the colour in season by the colour of the waterways”, and I remember thinking we have to do better, and collectively through knowledge sharing and actually caring, we can do better.

Watching Penny Walsh dye our fabric with chamomile and golden rod as I sipped herbal tea was one of the most relaxing design stages I have ever witnessed. Whilst the colour consistency of natural dyes can be argued until the proverbials come home, there is nothing like watching a natural process like this up close and personal; it feels clean and honest, and whilst we know that this is not feasible as a one size fits all solution, there have to be better options than some of the dye processes out there.

Having the Royal School of Needlework on board in 2014 was a dream come true. Fresh from helping Sarah Burton create the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress (which was later displayed at Buckingham Palace, attracting over 626,000 visitors), the RSN provided a stellar team to work on our gown in top secret Buckinghamshire quarters. It was a humbling and exciting experience as Michael Badger’s design was adorned with vintage beads from the 20’s and 30’s (I sewed a tiny patch on Naomie Harris’ Oscar dress myself); as the details, which included chocolate wrappers,  were painstakingly placed on the fabric we were all reminded of the importance of hand embroidery and ‘slow’ fashion, that quality fashion should be carefully made and even more diligently looked after. The finished piece was breathtaking and what I like to describe as being made with good karma. There have been so many lessons I will take away and embed into my own eponymous womenswear brand when it goes live because one thing I learnt from over 5 years of this project is that sustainability is more than a term, it’s a philosophy. Whilst we have not shared behind the scenes footage putting the final touches to our red carpet looks, working with brands like Stella McCartney and Beyond Skin to accessories our various Oscar looks were much needed.

The icing on the cake, the box on the present and the is the fact that the campaign aims to raise funds and awareness for MUSE School CA, where over 60% of the children are on financial aid. Truly, a phenomenal project.

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