Posts Tagged ‘ethical’

Who said state occasions need be all gilt and flamboyance. With all the budget in the world it could be easy to try and fill every aspect of the day with all the frills, but the wedding of William and Kate was elegant with timeless style. Take some tips from the royal wedding to create your own day with elegance and style by keeping it simple and incorporating nature.

Image: Daily Mail

No frills. Echoing the wedding gown of Princess Grace, Kate’s dress flowed with clean lines. We may not all be able to afford a couture designer but a simply cut silk gown is a classic. If a lace overlay is too costly then a lace bolero over an elegant dress is a winner.
Perhaps if she had not been marrying a future king, the crepe cowl neck dress worn by bridesmaid Pippa would have been Kate’s wedding dress of choice, and would be a more wear-again wedding dress style, rather than it entering the Royal archives!

Clean lines. Instead of over the top ornamental floral displays, a line of trees framing the aisle creating a spectacle and bringing nature into the building. You don’t need to spend a fortune on blooms, as around the base of the trees were planted British wild flowers; Lily of the Valley and white flowers from wild strawberries. And rather than letting the flowers wilt or go to waste, the couple show their loyalty to their causes by donating the flowers (and fruit) to charity and replanting the trees in the grounds of Highgrove. If you have a long engagement you may have time to grow your own flowers or strawberry plants, but if not, you could hire potted trees for the occasion.
Image: Flickr

Spring fresh. Dress the church in displays of white and green. Traditionally royal brides have carried bouquets of white flowers, and Kate chose to keep the colours simple though all the flowers and dresses. Easy for any bride to emulate, foliage is cheap and creates a look that is fresh and perfect for a Spring wedding with a few choice blooms. Follow Kate’s example and choose springs of mertyl, ivy and eucalyptus with white flowers which are in season, not only saving money but means the flowers will be fresher and more likely to be locally grown.

The eyes have it. A simple area to save a few pennies for any bride is to take the task of beauty in-house. So with a budget to die for it shows how that Kate Middleton is a down to earth girl in choosing to do her own make-up, especially when an estimated 2 billion people will be watching, some in HD. There again, she had been taking lessons from bridal makeover expert Arabella Preston.


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The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold in time for Valentines Day in February was a great leap forward in the development of trade in the jewellery industry. Hollywood stars, celebrity jewellers and our favourite names are embracing the new status and showing it has the lux appeal.

Historically the allure of jewellery has been the mystery surrounding how beautiful stones and metals are brought together to make glittering jewellery to adorn our bodies as they were worn by only the richest. However, now we understand more about the production processes of the products that we use day to day, transparancy has become the key factor as we want assurance that out luxuries are not at the expence of anothers life.

No longer simply indulging inthe world of luxury, the celebrities we look up are embracing these issues and bringing injustices to light. Livia Firth, the wife of Oscar winner Colin Firth, is a Fairtrade ambassador. She told the Telegraph: ‘We associate gold with love and beauty but there is often nothing beautiful about the way that gold is produced. Tens of millions of small-scale gold miners risk their lives in often appalling conditions and get a raw deal for their strenuous efforts.’

Most of the world’s gold is collected by small scale miners, often in dangerous conditions and exploited by middle-men. And in the race to keep costs low mines are simply abandoned when finished with leaving a large blot on the landscape. Gold certified as Fairtrade and Fairmined (a dual certification) ensures fair working conditions and wages and a guaranteed price for gold despite market fluctuations, and a premium on top of pay to benefit the community.

When CRED jewellery started the idea of fairtrade gold over 10 years ago, they dreamt that one day it would be worn on the red carpet. Luckily Livia Firth backs up her beliefs by living them out. She wore the first ever Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological gold jewellery at the Oscars 2011 ceremony, a set designed and hand-made by goldsmith Anna Loucah in collaboration with CRED Jewellery. Over the awards seasons of 2010 and 2011, as she accompanied husband Colin to pick up his numerous awards for ‘A Single Man’ and ‘The Kings Speech’, she wore only ethical or eco dresses and accessories for her Green Carpet Challenge

Meanwhile, in the USA, actress Brooklyn Decker (wife of tennis pro Andy Roddick) hit the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in a Joy Cioci dress accessorised with conflict-free and fair trade jewelry from Diamond in the Rough.

Jeweller to the stars (Christina Aguilera and Madonna are both big fans), Stephen Webster announced that both his label and Garrard, the renowned house he oversees as creative director, will be among the first 20 jewelers in the world to launch Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold. Like longstanding ethical jeweller, CRED, he is starting with wedding and engagement rings, but he hopes that soon his brands will be 100% Fairtrade.

Crown jewellers Garrard have been associated with the Royal jewellery collections since 1700’s, making royal jewellery commissions including Queen Victoria’s diamond crown, many coronations crowns and the Sapphire and diamond ring made for Princess Diana’s engagement ring that Kate is now wearing. Will Wills and Kate be commissioning them to make their royal wedding rings in fairtrade gold?

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Dress – check.
Shoes – check.
Jewellery – undecided…

Your wedding jewellery is the icing on the cake, and needs to compliment the outfit, theme and style perfectly. With so much choice available it can be difficult to choose, or at least compare the options.

What you need is a location with a variety of brands all in one place for easy comparison. And you are in luck as this week, as part of London Jewellery Week, CRED jewellery are hosting Essence, the jewellery equivelent to Esthetica (the ethical area of London Fashion Week) with a pavillion dedicated to showing the best of ethical jewellery and designers.

Set within Treasure, the general jewellery pavillion, Essence will be showcasing designs from ethical brands including April Doubleday, Avasarah, Choo Yilin, CRED, Fifi Bijoux, Leblas, Oria and Ute Decker. See a list of all the exhibitors. The event includes seminars and panels about exciting new tresnds in jewellery and about ethical and fairtrade developments, plus other benefits such as free make-uppers from beauty experts Benefit…you’ll need it after a day of window shopping…

The show is this weekend, Friday 11th – Sunday 13th June and combined tickets for entry to Treasure & Essence cost just £5 on the door…though if you contact CRED they can send you a 2-for-1 voucher for entry…

Treasure: Victoria House, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4DA.
The show is open Friday 12noon-8pm, Sat & Sun 10am-6pm

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The supermarkets have been vying for our attention recently with their green products and ethical fashion collaborations – I’m not saying they are green-washing, as I feel that each small step that each of us takes can add up to making a difference.

If we support these ventures and they prove popular, hopefully it will show the retailers that green & ethical is the way forward – such as Sainsbury making ALL their bananas fairtrade…

So what has caught our attention recently?

Tesco up-cycled fashion range

Using unsold products from their Florence + Fred clothing range, Tesco have collaborated with ethical designer brand ‘From Somewhere’ to upcycle  these peices, creating new outfits and pieces from the unused fabric and parts of the old, rather than it ending up in landfill.

From Somewhere, along with Junky Styling and Traid, have been pioneering the upcycling movement, creating desirable outfits from cast-offs, or pieces we have become bored with. (Orsola de Castro, the designer behind the brand also created the dress Livia Firth wore to the oscars this weekend, made from scraps of fabrics left-over from designers collections – read about it on her Vogue blog)

Upcycled putfits are usually at the higher end of the price market due to the one-off nature and all the hand-sewing and constuction that goes into each piece. However, this new Tesco range, being sold exclusively online, will offer a similar concept at more affordable prices due to the fact that for the first time a retailer is able to put volume behind the concept.

Check out the video about the concept, the super-eco factory and interviews with the designers.

Be inspired to upcycle your own outfits, rather than discarding and buying new when you are trying to save for a wedding! Get together with friends to see what fabrics and shapes you can pull together and re-make.
M&S plantable chocolate wrapper

Ok, so it isn’t a bar you pick up for 50p, but a ‘box’ of chocolates that you would give for a gift, but still, a step in the right direction. M&S have launched, just in time for Mothering Sunday, a box of chocolates, of which the box is made from seeded paper and when planted will see a variety of flowers loved by butterflies pop up- double whammy gift – chocolate and flowers!

And now is the ideal time to plant seeds for summer flowering, so it is the ideal gift for someone between now and may (during the planting period!)

It is possibe to buy seeded paper, and is popular for wedding invitations and thank-you cards, so you could re-reate this idea yourself for favour ideas, rather than spend £4.99 on each guest…

Let us know what you think about the Tesco clothing range and the M&S chocolate wrapper, or any other supermarket initiatives, below…

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On Aug. 17, 1477, Mary of Burgundy became the first bride-to-be to receive a diamond engagement ring.  Her betrothed, Maximilian of Austria, was counselled that the diamond would assuage her doubts about marrying him.  By the mid-1600s, diamond engagement rings were fashionable in Europe, though rings set with other gems, particularly rubies, were also very common.  It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that diamond rings became the icons of engagement that they are today, when De Beers launched its infamous “diamonds are forever” campaign in 1938, making diamonds essential to three-quarters of modern American brides. DeBeers also were behind the ‘tradition’ that the man spend ‘just 2 months salary’ on the piece.

The film ‘Blood Diamond’ brought to the fore the issues thrown up by the excessive mining of precious metals and stones, the environmental impact, and the link that has been made with rebel military movements.

The Kimberley process is an initiative by governments and the industry to stop the flow of so-called conflict diamonds, rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance war against legitimate governments.

However, the Kimberley process does not account for environmental practices. Pioneers in the jewellery industry, CRED jewellery, seek to go further. Their diamonds are fully traceable and certified conflict-free, sourced from mines they have visited in Canada, Australia and Namibia, so that they can guarantee the economic and environmental impact as well.
CRED are working towards having a truly ‘pure’ diamond, certified Fair Trade, from artisanal sources, that will deliver real economic justice to those involved in its production. We will look at CRED’s gold practices later in the series.

As a starting point, when choosing your engagement ring make sure you ask for a diamond that is conflict-free. Ask the retailer about the origin of the stone or for a ‘denomination of origin’ certificate. There are many retailers of conflict free diamonds – make sure you ask before you waste time looking in a store that can’t trace the origin.

What makes a diamond a diamond?

Two hundred and fifty tons of ore must be removed to find a pea-sized diamond; several hundreds of thousands of “industrial-use” diamonds are mined for every jewel-quality stone.

Brilliant Inc create simulated diamonds are grown ethically in laboratories. They grow layer on layer like actual diamonds and all the jewellery is cut by hand by master jeweller craftsmen.

Throwing to bed the idea of spending 2 months’ salary on the ring, they also have the added bonus of being much more affordable that real diamonds because they do not have such a huge footprint and cost of mining and transport behind them. A solitaire with a 1ct diamond equivalent will cost just £185 (pictured). But that doesn’t mean that you are compromising on quality. Gemologists have declared them to be excellent quality and the best diamond stimulants.

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Undercover agent

There is more to your wedding than what your guests see – the gorgeous flowers, scrummy cake and, of course, your beautiful dress… But what goes on underneath it?

I am yet to find an ethical bra that I want to buy. To me, they just don’t cut it. There are certain criteria that need to be filled – support, prettiness, and giving me the right sillouette once I’m dressed… A practical, pretty ethical bra seems to be asking too much.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some gorgeous lingerie out there, such as the lacy cami sets from Enamore, or everyday organic cotton panties from People Tree.  Knickers seem much easier to make – a bra requires an arcitecture qualification…

Which is why I was so pleased to hear that DaisyGreen are doing something about it – their Big Green Boob survey is asking girls up and down the country to say what is important when buying a bra, and then will be used to challenge bra manufactures to give us waht we want – they obviously get the added bonus of us buying their bra…win-win!

So head on down to www.daisygreenmagazine.co.uk to have your say, and be in with the chance to win £50 of fairtrade knickers…just awaiting the matching bra, then…

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I love the glamour of the next few weeks with all the film awards ceremonies and to-die-for dresses. Last year we were wowed by the white red-carpet dresses which inspired many hollywood-style weddings.

Livia in her upcycled couture wedding dressWith a twist on this, at the Golden Globes this week Livia Firth, actor Colin Firths wife, wore a vintage Christian Couture wedding dress with a contrast black sash, wowing the press. What makes it more exciting, is that this dress was the first in a challenge that Livia has set herself to only wear ethical and sustainable fashion for the entire awards season, blogging about it on Vogue.com. (Photographs by Caroline Schiff.)

Sustainable fashion has come on in leaps and bounds in recent times, but has never before made it onto the red carpet. Livia, co-founder of Eco-Age, an eco homewares store in West London (take a trip for some inspiration for your wedding gift list) has set herself the challenge to wear sustainable, eco or ethical rags to all the events she goes to, accompanying her husband on his own quest to scoop awards that he really deserves.

With all the a-listers in couture dresses it could be really tempting to get new dresses made for all these events, but Livia has really stuck with her passion for sustainnability in all aspects of her life, not compromising on these, or style, for anything. With the Golden Globes already under her belt, and the Screen Actors Guild tonight, there are more opportunities for Livia to fly the flag for gorgeous sustainable fashion.

Livia says on the Vogue.com blog The re-purposed Christiana Couture wedding dress was a HUGE success in the sense that I don’t think I’ve ever had so many compliments for a dress in one night. But people here do not seem to understand the concept of ethical fashion – they loved the dress but when I revealed the origin they sort of switch off as if it’s not cool anymore because it was once a wedding dress. It’s made me realise that althought repurposing and vintage are great, we need to go one step further and make a really strong ethical fashion statement.’

Oh, and she kissed George Clooney on the cheek…

The great news is that it has just been announced that Colin is up for ‘Best Actor’ at the BAFTAs so we we will be seeing Livia’s response to the challenge much closer to home on 21st February.

I would really love to see her champion British design on the red (or green) carpet here – my wish list would be CRED jewellery, Beyond Skin shoes (already a favourite of Natalie Portman), clutch from fashion conscience and maybe even a gown made from recycled suits or shirts from Junky Styling

If you were Lupe Castro, ethical stylist to the stars, how would you style Livia Firth for the BAFTAs?

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