Minutes before the Collina Strada Spring Summer 2020 runway show yesterday, a woman wearing an entirely orange outfit posed for a selfie with a baguette while another wearing butterfly hair clips posed with a piece of fruit. Where did they get their props (i.e. groceries)? From the farmer’s market staged just for the show, of course.
The show, whose invites included a childlike drawing of an earth with the words “thank you very much for helping me” scribbled above, seemed to be a loving request from Hillary Taymor, the brand’s founder and designer, directly to fashion industry people and consumers to band together and take better care of our planet. And this message was carried through to every detail of the show — in addition to tables of fresh bread, produce, and flowers, on each seat there was a list of suggested ways to help care for the earth written by fashion activist Celine Semaan of Slow Factory, as well as a reusable Baggu bags in a chartreuse color with the same graphic as the invite printed on it.
As the show began, rising musician Zsela took the stage (rather the street as the show was situated on a quiet Manhattan block next to a park), belting out soulful songs with lyrics like “is anybody out there?, “we’re killing everything that’s alive”, and “I wrote these songs for a dying planet”. Reading those lines back now, they seem depressing and dark, but the way she sang them was most definitely not. There was some much needed gentleness and hope in her voice, and also in the clothes that came down the runway.
At Collina Strada there was a wistful sense of innocence to the 40 looks and the models of all ages who wore them, including adorable babies (seriously, one looked like it came straight out of the womb right to the runway!) and children. The clothes included washed out, tie dyed dresses, cargo pants, bodysuits, and sweatsuits with scribbles of daisies. There were other fun and colorful ditzy floral prints while cascading floral rhinestone designs were also added here and there. I loved the 90s style velvet pieces with ruched details and the button down shirts that were layered on top of each other. There were pops of fuchsia and a vibrant green color iterated in a swirl print.
Some of the models wore hair bows while others wore bits of cucumbers on their faces. One even had rainbows applied to her nostrils! The footwear was exquisitely childlike and nostalgic — shower slides had rainbow beaded flower details and colored crystal flowers, thong flip flops had multicolored beads, and sneakers were covered with what seemed like leftover fabric.
Dancing and shopping at the show’s farmer’s market, the models were like flower people, or children of the earth. And as the show notes declared, “Sustainability is a journey, not a destination” while the designer also admitted, “I am struggling to figure out how to be responsible & transparent as possible.” The honesty was refreshing as was the mood of the event, despite the seriousness of its message. “I’m learning daily about how to build better business practices and design with consciousness,” the show notes continued.
In a time when more and more news reports are being released about the doom of the earth while governments and conglomerates are doing little to solve the problem, Taymour’s declaration and presentation was a breath of fresh air. It seemed to embrace the idea that just like studying basic subjects in elementary school, sustainability doesn’t have to be so scary. It’s something we can all learn and learn it together while still looking comfy and cute, of course.
After the final walk, Taymour ran out and shouted, “Guys, take some fruit!” And that the crowd did, excitingly filling their new reusable bags with the precious loot. After all, it’s hard to find time to eat during NYFW, plus who doesn’t love free stuff!!
Following the show, Semaan, who advised Taymour on the collection told Teen Vogue, “Hillary’s heart is in the right place. She really cares and wants to make sure that everything from the fabrics to the dyes to the crystals are sustainable.” In fact, the crystals were upcycled from broken pieces of Swarovski while all the clothes were made using deadstock fabric. According to the activist, Taymour has always made sustainability a priority in her collections, and this show was a pleasant and welcome next chapter in that journey.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue