Coco Chanel made the little black dress famous in the 1920s. It was cut simply, often with a short skirt and intended to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable and a neutral colour. Coco said it would become “ a sort of uniform for all women of taste.
Is green the new black? Maybe, but green has certainly inspired Genevive Edmonds of Maleny to establish a ‘green’ garment business that picks up Coco Chanel’s original concept and clothes it in the garb of sustainability.
“Stylish and sustainable are no longer mutually exclusive. That’s my slogan”, says Genevive who explains why she came up with the idea for the Little Green Dress.
“It’s not made from cotton and it’s not adding to land fill. It’s well made with French seams and it’s made to last. It comes under the category of slow fashion which means, like slow food, it’s made locally, it’s not mass produced and it comes in limited edition runs.
Genevive Edmonds is one of a new breed of well trained creatives who has one eye on sustainability and the other on making a living. She completed a Batchelor of Design degree at UTS in Sydney in the early 1990s and has always had a passion for textiles. She is never short of private commissions but the Little Green Dress is the culmination of years of refining business ideas and clothing designs. She is both innovative in design ideas and at the same time resourceful with her materials.
“When I run out of certain fabric for example, then I choose another one. So, you know that when you’re wearing one of my garments, another 17,000 other people aren’t wearing the same one.”
To Genevive being sustainable starts with her materials. She prefers combinations like silk and linen, silk and hemp. She often uses a fascinating fabric mix called hemp yack from Nepal or china. It’s 65% hemp and 35% yak hair. Genevive sources her raw silk fabrics from a Lao weaving co-op and dyes those silks with natural eco-dyeing techniques.
“ If I can’t find a fabric that I can buy new on the roll as a sustainable source, I then turn to ends of runs or left-overs from wholesalers. So I might get 20 or 30 metres of silk that’s left over from a particular designer’s run”.
Genevive also has a fresh approach to re-cycling. For example, right now she’s buying new and second-hand kimonos from Japan. She unpicks them and uses the fabrics in trims to make completely new clothing items.
“Kimonos appeal to me because they have really beautiful patterns and textures that I haven’t found in other materials – waves or geometric shapes, floral, snakeskin or bamboo patterns. And of course they have gorgeous linings which I can incorporate into new garments. Right now for example the kimonos I am using are all black so the attraction is in the relief of the weave.”
Genevive won’t be pinned down to a particular style. Her workroom rack displays a range of loose fitting pants, dresses, slips, skirts and camisoles.
“I love layering”, explains Genevive. “Different garments in different combinations. So there are skirts that you can see through, that you can wear pants underneath or a dress over. To me it’s not any particular style other than its beautiful, it’s well made, and it’s something very unique and different.
My customer is the mature woman so it’s not an age thing. The little green dress is for the woman who wants to dress well without costing the earth. She’s got an eye for detail. She loves fashion but also wants to make an environmentally-conscious choice with her spending dollar”.
Choosing to be an environmentally-conscious shopper may mean you pay more these days, but Genevive believes more and more people are becoming aware of their choices in all aspects of their lives, including what clothes to buy and how to support an environmentally-conscious agenda.
The high quality of Genevive’s garments has already attracted the attention of main street Range shop, Maleny Additions, which is stocking several items from December. She is excited at not only finding a top quality local outlet but that the Little Green Dress may become a viable business to support her and her two young girls.
So what’s next for this resourceful young designer? “Beautiful dresses”, she says with enthusiasm. “Gorgeous dresses made from combinations of lots of different fabrics. I’ve got this particular dress in my head that I haven’t had a chance to make, but I will get to it. It will be made with strips of organza and tea-dyed silk cut on the cross, stitched in layers on a hemp yack shift.”
If it’s possible to move a fickle fashion industry towards being environmentally-conscious and sustainable, then it’s determined designers like Genevive Edmonds who are likely to get it there.