Style Notes From the Trees

Posted by Rumin Mann
March 28th, 2011

Wood has become a symbol of the moment, an imprint to give fashion a feeling for ecology. Left and right, the knotted surface of trees at Rodarte’s spring/summer collection. Center, Issey Miyake’s 2009 spring/summer collection drew from the colors of a rain forest.

Of all the many experimental materials proposed by fashion designers, garments carved out of wood are unlikely to make it to the female closet. Ancient armor might have been chiseled from a tree trunk to create protective vests, but even that was abandoned when metal took over.

Yet the bark of trees, its distinctive markings and swirls, has been used by designers as disparate as Alexander McQueen and the duo behind Rodarte.

Wood has become a symbol of the moment, an imprint of nature to give fashion a feeling for ecology.

Laura and Kate Mulleavy at Rodarte, leaders in the current feeling for craft-based fashion, focused on the wood story for the spring/summer season, using wooden boxes as their set and the knotted surfaces of mature trees as patterns on their dresses, tops and pants.

The wood pattern appeared again at Céline, where the smooth, sleek effects of wood grain were inspired rather by the interiors of stately cars, according to the designer Phoebe Philo. But whatever its origins, these wood patterns reinforced the current feeling for craft and things made — and polished — by hand.

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