Green Embassy returns to Vancouver Fashion Week
I was honoured to attend an Artist's Talk hosted by Helen Siwak of Kitsilano Kitty's Closet over the weekend to hear Zuhal Kuvan-Mills (seen above left) a Turkish-born Australian visual artist, textile and organic certified (GOTS) haute-couture fashion designer speak about her product and inspirations, "Beyond the Design." The Australian Honorary Consul Kevin Lamb even attended to show his support.
I met Zuhal last season at Vancouver Fashion Week and was in awe of her unique pieces made from felt and weaving of the alpaca she raises in Perth, Australia. "I am a farmer and a scientist first," she said. Zuhal graduated in 1986 from Istanbul University as a veterinarian surgeon. She went on to lecture in animal science and conservation.
Her two labels, Green Embassy and Atelier Zuhal are internationally certified with Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) certification. She specializes in handmade textiles using certified organic alpaca and merino fibres, and Green Embassy, a cutting-edge ‘slow fashion’ clothing label employing earth-friendly, hand-crafted techniques. Green Embassy is organic, eco-friendly, and has a zero-waste policy. "At the end of the year I may only have that much waste," said Zuhal pointing to a small living room wasted bin.
It was her love for contemporary art , that had her study at University of Creative Arts in Farnham–England and Curtin University in WA and earned her a Visual Arts degree, winning several awards. She started Green Embassy in 2013.
"It was attending Vancouver Fashion Week that really got things going for me," said Zuhal. Her Green Embassy’s first collection "Regeneration’’ went on to show at Eco -luxe London during the London Fashion week and Seattle Eco Show, Beijing PLITZS New York Fashion Week, New Zealand Eco-Fashion Week.
Green Embassy will be seen at the end of September, 2014 at World Fashion Week in Paris, France, representing her country (Australia)and is said to be the only 'eco' designer to attend this year.
This season the biggest change I've seen in her work is the use of silk fabrics, offering up cooler pieces to be worn in spring and summer. In her leaf colourization process she rolls eucalyptus leaves within the fabric and boils it. The effect is colourful, rich and warm, and tells a story of the earth and nature. "I've been inspired recently by First Nations designs," said Zuhal and has since been collaborating with Deborah Bonar, (Aboriginal Heritage Gija and Yamatji ) Western Australian artist. Some of those collaborations will be seen on the runway this week in Vancouver.
Green Embassy has also launched an accessories line within her, "Connected to Land" line that use any or a variety of knitted copper wire, GOTS certified organic cotton fabric, natural silk organza eco-printed with eucalyptus leaves, agate stones, and beads. Each, like her clothing, are unique pieces of artwork.
"I am an artist that makes clothes," insists Zuhal, "I am not a fashion designer."
That said, artist or designer, I am very excited to see her next 'group of work' on Thursday, September 18th when her pieces hit the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week!