Friday 11 September 2015

Zandra Rhodes for People Tree event

Having been a huge fan of people tree and the work that Safia Minney does, I have to say that I was more than a little excited to attend the Zandra Rhodes for people tree spring/summer 2016 launch. Being naturally nosy, just getting a sneaky preview of the collection was enough to get my blood pumping. Combine it with the opportunity to meet the founder and hear about the inspiration behind the collection from the designer, Zandra Rhodes, herself... Well that's just something that does not happen to me everyday, actually ever, I'm not from the world of fashion.
Of course people tree fashion has practically created a world of its own. When journalist Lucy Siegle started talking about her trip to Bangladesh with Safia Miney and Zandra Rhodes, you could feel the enthusiasm and curiosity in the room. She was saying that people tree really is about relationships, and I have no problem believing it. During their trip they visited a rural village, Thanapara, near the Ganges River in North West Bangladesh. People tree has been partnering with a Fair Trade producer group Swallows in this region for over 20 years. The business model of people tree is very much producer centric, Safia mentioned that they pay 30% more for organic cotton and a 16% premium to farmers to support training.
It was really fascinating listening to Zandra Rhodes talking about the inspiration behind the collection, and very interesting to see the dynamic between herself and Safia, it was quiet clear that this is not a simple working partnership but a relationship, and Zandra was sharing credit for the collection with Safia. According to Zandra it was Safia who when looking through her older works was saying that she really would like something with the lipsticks for the next collection. The lipstick print is actually from 1963, and the bow print was created in the 80s, so even though the styles are modern there is history to go with pieces, a fusion of modern and vintage. The garment shapes were left deliberately simple to show off the prints. Makes absolute sence when we are talking about prints from Zandra Rhodes' archives, you absolutely do want to show those off!
While I loved the look of the collection overall, a particular favourite was the handwoven cotton dress with the block printed roses. The amount of care that goes into creating a garment like that, with the print having to be stamped on to the material block by block. The fabric of all the garments was simply exquisite, it's just shows how versatile cotton can be.
While the collection was naturally the focus of the evening, Safia had one more launch to talk about. She is writing another book 'Slow Fashion' which will be published by the new internationalist in January (the same guys who published Naked Fashion). If the previous book is anything to go by this will be a true gem.
I can not talk about the event and not to mention what a true wonder the Zandra Rhodes' penthouse itself is. The decor is an explosion of soft colours that somehow manage to be bright and bold. The chandelier in the corner is a marvel in its own right, and not to forget the gorgeous roof garden. It was an absolute privilege to be there.
It was a very pleasant surprise to receive a lovely goodie bag, with incredible People tree accessories and the "True cost" dvd. I am looking forward to watching it. I have to give a massive shout out to Amber (who happened to be my 'in' for the event), do checkout her post about it. It was an amazing experience, very different to the green beauty events, it was a little overwhelming at first yet we both had a lot of fun. I honestly feel even more inspired by the message of ethical business and People tree in particular. It's crazy how far removed most of production is from me as a consumer, and how easy it is to get so absorbed in my own world. Concentrating on the appearance of things without giving one thought of how they are produced, and how my buying habits effect people that seem so far removed from me. The girl that was modelling my favourite dress, Rebecca, mentioned that after her visit to Bangladesh she can't really easily shop on the high street because now she sees those people who are making the garments when looking at the items on the shelves. It stuck with me, because it's easy to ignore things that we don't see, for me personally I think it's time to open my eyes a little wider.

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