Tackling climate change with flair
On February 6, the "Runway on the Runway" catwalk show will take place where one of the runways at JFK airport in NY will be converted into a sustainable fashion display.
As climate change affects us all, efforts are also being made to counteract it from every conceivable angle: from finance to construction, individual dietary changes and fashion.
Jessica Minh Anh is a Vietnamese supermodel who is innovating the world of fashion shows: her strategy is to intervene in iconic places and mount impressive catwalks where all the elements involved are directly linked to sustainability. On February 6, he will take over one of the runways at New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport and do so by showcasing pieces by two Latina designers: Ani Alvarez Calderon of Peru and Cristina Sabatini of Brazil.
This monumental show will be part of the opening of New York's Fashion Week, and it aims to leave a lasting impression on the entire industry.
This runway on the runway is the continuation of ten years of interventions made by Jessica Minh Anh around the theme of climate change, "what I'm doing is trying to send a message about sustainability in a more creative and visually appealing way. For example, I promoted solar energy and also hydropower in different parts of the world. [...] There are so many ways to send a message. Mine is to promote fashion and sustainability in a more creative and beautiful way," says Minh Anh.
This form of experimentation has led her to work on the Towers of London, the Eiffel Tower, the world's largest solar power plant in Spain and the River Seine, to name a few examples.
However, Minh Anh is not a designer, she is a model and an event producer. That's where Ani Alvarez Calderon and Cristina Sabatini come in.
Ani Álvarez Calderón was born in Lima, Peru, and after working with Michael Kors and marketing her designs for some private clients, she started her personal brand in 2000. Her designs often reinterpret Peruvian traditions and landscape, represented in the color palette she chooses, the type of fabrics and even some cuts, with haute couture. It is frequent to find pieces with complex and baroque hand embroidery in golden, ochre and copper tones, as reminiscences of vegetation, the desert and the sand.
"I consider haute couture as an art where you can indulge in dreams and create pieces that are timeless and very creative. That they are handmade and a good way to tell a story".
While many of her pieces have been focused exclusively on the runway, she is now focusing much more on functionality, she says.
The Peruvian has previously collaborated with Jessica Ming Anh's sustainable fashion shows: in February 2018 her "Descendants of the Sun" collection was part of the ocean catwalk made aboard the Costa neoRomantica cruise ship, tall as a skyscraper.
"I think she has a very clear idea of what an artist is because all her pieces have always been very impressive and unique. So when you look at her pieces you know 'Ah! That's a design by Ani!', rather than being confused with another piece by another brand," says Minh Anh about the style of the Peruvian's work.
"Haute couture is the opposite of fast fashion, which is what most contaminates the world," says Ani Álvarez Calderón, explaining the pieces she prepared for this show.
"For this collection that I am going to present in New York I decided to reinterpret and reuse my iconical pieces that I designed in the last 15 years and present them in a new way.
We put them together by mixing different years. Some of them have been given sleeves, touched up with embroidery or shortened. The idea is that good designs last for years.
For this show we also used the Pacho Work technique to create haute couture designs either by using fabric scraps or recycling garments to create new ones.
Now I am more aware of the source of my materials, of using what I have and inventing, creating my own materials with so many fabrics, patterns and garments that I have accumulated over the past 15 years."
She also sees that she has changed "in valuing the work done by hand and creating pieces that last over time, that don't go out of style. I love to create artistic pieces that tell a story and now I am more focused on the functionality of each piece I make.
Cristina Sabatini is Brazilian and designed part of the jewelry that will be exhibited at the event. She finds that in the case of jewelry the search for sustainability is more complex, since it is a sector of the industry with a high dependence on raw materials, although efforts are being made in that direction.
"I see companies starting to source responsibly, to use recycled metals and materials, and to think about how logistics impact on the environment, and all this is inspiring to see the steps we take to save our planet.
This year the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) encouraged attendees to wear something they had worn before. Which in itself is nothing new or innovative, but that small request was an amazing step towards standardising the use of what we have," recalls Sabatini.
She sees that jewelry has a greater potential to be sustainable in the way it is produced and worn, in being worn daily for years.
"Part of sustainability starts with our innate desire to participate in it, which translates into less consumption and that's very difficult in the fashion industry.
As designers we have to be smart about what we create and put out there as we can be strong influences on how it is consumed. I hope that wearers love my jewelry enough to want to reach for it every time, instead of going out and buying another item that can only be worn once.
Jewelry is a very emotional and personal purchase and our cherished pieces must be cared for to be worn over and over again to conjure up the feelings of joy we felt when we originally chose them."
All of this will be done in partnership with DHL, which since 2007 has made sustained efforts to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, at all levels of its supply chain: changing routes, using low impact transport in the first and last mile of the supply chain, financing carbon dioxide offset projects across the globe.
Given the impact that the transport sector has on the annual emission of carbon dioxide, its reduction is indispensable for us to have a clean economy in the future.
The partnership with DHL will be closely related to the way the parade will take place:
"In terms of how it's going to be presented, we're going to have each model inside a Boeing plane, instead of being in a warehouse or something, and then all the models will be dropped, like when you drop luggage from the plane, and then onto the runway. So they'll walk right in front of the plane and then we'll have the electric car. And we'll also do a little bit with a helicopter. Hopefully, it will be an incredible experience for everyone who watches us," explained Jessica Minh Anh.
When asked what's next, Minh Anh replied that she likes to keep her locations a secret while projects are taking shape, but that the idea of having a parade in South America appeals to her, especially in Peru. Maybe someday we'll see a parade in honor of the million trees that Peru is going to plant to protect Machupicchu?