Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on March 5, 2009
Eco-fashions tend to congregate on the casual end of the fashion. After all, organic cotton and bamboo do make for some mighty comfy tees and great looking denim. But high fashion is finally coming to the party with some pretty stylish threads.
Take Danish label Noir Illuminati II. Their designs are as famous for their stark monochromatic, exquisitely tailored and über-sexy look as they are sustainability. The label consists of two parts: Noir represents the luxury brand, and Illuminati II handles its cotton-creating counterpart. The company uses fairly traded sub-Saharan organic cotton and operates under the business model of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), making it unique in the world of high fashion.
Run by Peter Ingwersen, a former Levi’s brand manager, the label is relatively new, having debuted a mere five seasons ago. During that time, however, Ingwersen has managed to up the use of certified materials from 30% to 70%. His signature fabric is organic cotton, which he sources from Ugandan cotton farmers. A percentage of the profits from the clothes goes back to Africa through The Noir Foundation, which provides essential medicine and micro loans as part of a Humane Business Model.
Illuminati cotton fabrics are also sold to other luxury brands who embrace the movement toward ethical fashion.
A pioneer in what he terms “cotton couture”, Ingwersen has treated the fabric in many innovative ways: coated cotton gives the impression of fetishistic rubber, cotton silks have a light weight luxury feel, while starched honeycomb cotton creates interesting shapes.
The theme for his Spring/Summer 2008 collection, which hit the runways of New York earlier this year, was transparency: “comprised mainly of organic and African cottons, silks and oeko-tex certified fabrics in caviar grays, blacks and whites.” Says Peter Ingwersen, “We want to be known as the first brand to turn corporate social responsibility sexy.”
Smart move. Because we all know that sex sells — especially when it’s ethical.