Fashion with an ethical edge struts Paris catwalk

18th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 19 (AFP) - Organisers are busy preparing clothing and models for more than 20 designers participating in the first ever ethical fashion show in Paris on Friday, to focus on fair trade and natural products - a departure from the glamorous stage shows usually seen here.

PARIS, Nov 19 (AFP) - Organisers are busy preparing clothing and models for more than 20 designers participating in the first ever ethical fashion show in Paris on Friday, to focus on fair trade and natural products - a departure from the glamorous stage shows usually seen here.

The event, which includes runway shows on Friday and designer stands with clothing for sale to the public over the weekend, is also focusing on fashion production and fair labour practices in developing countries.

In one gallery on Paris prestigious Place des Vosges, designers were busy bringing in cases of clothing, as models rehearsed steps and tried on shoes.

Blouses were placed on mannequins and lined up, as stands were set up on the white walls of the gallery.

"Ethical fashion has to do with designers mostly from developing countries using local natural materials and local family structures to make the clothing at fair wages," explained Frenchwoman Isabelle Quehe, who put together the show.

"You almost never see designers from developing countries doing shows in Paris, so this brings together the natural products, local fair labour, respect for the environment and finding sales outlets in Paris."

Sakina Msa, from the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, is doing a runway show with clothes using cotton from India. "I work with a collective in India," she said. "I know all the families who make the clothing. They do not send their children out to work."

Msa said she was working on setting up the same kind of structure in the Comoros.

"This is about clothing in an ethical structure," she said. "When you spend EUR 4 (more than USD 5) on a cup of coffee in a Paris bistro, it is enough to feed someone for a month in the Comoros. That is enough to make me think about the distribution of wealth and poverty."

This is the first ever ethical fashion show for jewellery designer Mikael Kra, originally from Bouake, in civil war-torn Ivory Coast.

"There is a certain morality in this," said Kra, who has designed collections for Pierre Balmain and Louis Ferrer in Paris. "A morality linked to using natural products and local labour."

For this show, he is presenting a jewellery collection made of ostrich egg shells and natural semi-precious pearls, backed with leather. Twenty-three women from the Namibian Bushman people made the jewellery.

"Those are a lot of little bushes," he said, playing on the words 'bush' and the French word 'bouche,' or mouth.

While the shows do not get under way until Friday, the event began with a series of round table discussions in Paris Thursday, addressing subjects such as luxury, fashion and ethics; how to develop fair trade fashion practices; and success stories from designers on how to create a fair trade product or line of fashion.

Quehe said she hopes to put together follow-up shows in Berlin, London and Barcelona. "I hope we can convince the big fashion groups that this is worth it," she said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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