Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), part of the London College of Fashion, is marking the United Nations Climate Change conference COP21 with the launch of its Dress For Our Time initiative that aims to address climate change.
The initiative by Professor Helen Storey will be released in a series of chapters, the first of which is a dress that has been produced using a tent gifted by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and fitted it with digital data displays that clock the effects of climate change if we do nothing, with the aim of fuelling a conversation on the important topic.
The Dress For Our Time was placed on display at London’s St Pancras train station over the weekend in the hope that it would engage with the delegates and dignitaries passing through the station to Paris where the conference is taking place.
The dress has been developed in partnership with interactive creative agency Holition and uses data taking from a study conducted by a team of global scientists and provided by the Met Office. It is hoped that by giving the tent a second life as a public fashion art installation that it will represent the “importance of nurturing and protecting all people and safeguarding generations to come”.
Professor Storey explains: “We wanted it to be a powerful symbol of what it means to be human and the precarious nature of our existence.”
CSF’s Dress For Our Time launches to address climate change
The project has been two years in the making and was born from a meeting where Professor Storey gathered climate scientists and researchers to look at how we are or are not responding to climate change. In collaboration with different backgrounds, from business, science, technology and fashion to humanitarian work, the Dress For Our Time project was born as a way to engage a public debate that uses the power of fashion to allow people to connect with the issue in a different way.
"Nobody is afraid of a frock, and you have to use the power of that,” added Professor Storey in a YouTube interview to promote the campaign. “If people think they're looking at fashion, if they think they're looking at art, then they are open. If you can then - through a Trojan horse or subterfuge or whatever way you want to do it - at the same time deliver something that is more difficult than looking at a frock, you've got people in the right space, which is to be open and to be curious and in some ways to be disarmed by beauty. So, if I do my job right, it's using beauty to disarm people."
In addition to the art installation, Professor Storey has also produced a film featuring the dress, where a woman awakes in the forest wearing the billowing gown before walking through the streets of London in the attracting the attention of passers-by.
Professor Storey is looking for feedback on social media using hashtags #Dress4OurTime and #ClimateChange to define the project’s next chapter, which will launch in March 2016.
Images: David Betteridge for Centre for Sustainable Fashion / Dress For Our Time