November 7, 2012 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Call it a veggie fashion statement, garden garb, sustainable style, or compostable couture–these 100% organic botanical garments are just naturally gorgeous forms of horticouture. Based on the classic shift dress first introduced in the 1960’s by Coco Channel, artist Nicole Dextras created 21 handmade dresses as part of her ongoing Weedrobes series. The Little Green Dress Projekt was exhibited from July 11 to September 30, 2012 at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, BC Canada as part of Garden’s Earth Art Exhibition.
“Jérémie” is made from Crab-apples, Ligularia leaves and buds, Smoke Bush leaves, Maple leaves, Sweetgum seed pods, False Indigo seed pods, Hemp and Linen thread.
A twist on the ubiquitous black dress, these garments were completely organic–made from leaves and flowers and other natural materials.
The 28 dresses were all exhibited in an outdoor installation, each draped over a wooden stand.
Dextras derived her inspiration from the age-old adage that “every woman should own a little black dress” but intended to bring this notion into today’s environmental awareness: a shout out for every woman having at least one item of clothing in her wardrobe that is produced in a sustainable and equitable manner.
Prototypes and Some Botanical Math
Dextras made numerous prototypes for the dresses and had to calculate how many leaves she would need: “How much you need depends entirely on the size of the material…the leaves need to be overlapped and lobed leaves such as the Oak will need more overlap…
Plant materials were attached by placing the stem through the Seagrass.
Laurel leaf, 3” wide about 125 to 150 leaves
Clump of Japanese Maple leaves about 150 to 175 leaves
Yellow Poplar, 8” wide leaf, 75 to 100 leaves
The simple prototype, below, was constructed with Seagrass (the twisted rope going horizontally) and basketry Reed (the vertical lines).
Each dress was made to measure by the artist from locally sourced materials representing a wide cross section of women of all ages and sizes from fashionistas, to gardeners.
All the dresses were left on site in the garden to decompose over time, proving as Dextras said, that even though they are “old” they are still beautiful.