Perhaps appreciation of haute couture fashion is an acquired taste that requires training and study like fine wine. Or perhaps haute couture is actually rather silly and presumptuous and like George Bernard Shaw’s opinion that “Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics.” Or perhaps appreciation of haute couture, as in the life and work of Linda Loudermilk, flows and grows like a seed from the soul that is nourished with passion, commitment and ideals.
Eco-designer for eco-conscious celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Debra Messing and Jennifer Beals, Linda Loudermilk merges high fashion skills and environmental awareness with the wonder of earth-generated textiles made of sasawashi, bamboo, sea cell, soya and other eco-fabrics such as EcoSpun®. EcoSpun® is recycled plastic beverage bottles that have been melted and then turned into a filament that is spun and re-knit with cotton to form a soft and fleecy fabric. Organic clothing purists and chemically sensitive clothing consumers might take issue with the use of petroleum-based products in clothing and suggest that there are better ways to recycle plastic bottles.
In her clothing label “luxury eco by Linda Loudermilk,” she displays her passion for ecological sustainability and nature as she captures the moods and actions of nature in her fashions by creating exquisite clothing that allows the human body and spirit to reaffirm our deep connections to the natural world. “Seek out the extra-ordinary,” urges Loudermilk. “Look for three-dimensional designs and fabric embellishments, unusual insets fashioned from vintage laces and trims transform frocks from classic to collectable. Venture beyond the plain and simple to luxury-eco artistic designs that usher in a new era of environmentalism fresh from an artist’s palette of sophisticated styles.”
Her spring '05 collection was inspired by the birds and air, with the theme "Who Will Nurture the Earth?" running through it. The luxury eco by Linda Loudermilk Fall '05 Collection draws upon the soft lines and fluid movement of sea creatures with wavy edges, jellyfish prints and rich colors that are reminiscent of the world below water.
“The simplicity of several silhouettes in the collection mirror the sleekness of a fish,” Loudermilk explains. Describing the sasawashi jacket she designed, Loudermilk references kelp floating in water and how it looks while resting on the sand. “It's like the way sea life would land on your body; like clinging blankets of kelp or schools of jellyfish floating around you.” Similarly, the bamboo jersey and crepe Loudermilk uses drapes and clings, moving as they would beneath an ocean wave. About the Barnacle dress Loudermilk designed, she commented, “When you think of our romantic thoughts of life under the sea, you think of color and lots of movement. If you picked a flower of the sea and you put it on your body like you would a land flower, it would droop and cling to your body. I tried to create this effect with the organic wool dress.” Loudermilk's coral top mimics coral itself; hard and jagged yet fluid and curvy. “The lace of the top is metallic, which is hard and the coral beads are a balance to that-more soft.”
"One of the tops, made from Lenpur, sasawashi leaf and metal zippers reminds me of when you see a still part of the ocean and you'll see a bunch of objects floating together," Loudermilk said. "I am replicating this experience on fabric." Another element of that same top, inspired by sea kelp, includes a chain of leaves, made of metal, entangled with chiffon.
Partnering with the philanthropic company Ethos Water for her Spring '06 Collecton, Loudermilk proclaims "Water is a human right." Her Spring collection, not surprisingly, is deeply influenced by water - muddy, clean, flowing, still, wild, rushing - all of which celebrates the power of water to transform, feed and cleanse both body and soul.
When reflecting upon her fashions, Loudermilk says, "I design to hit people at a gut level; to capture the soul and raw beauty of people and nature. The garments in my fall collection inherently bring up our universal connectedness and our responsibility to take care of each other and the earth. This collection is about the hope in the world and the 'we are all one' spirit."
Loudermilk’s work is also distinguished by her use of sustainable exotic fabrics, such as sasawashi, an avant-garde fiber blend of Japanese paper, herbs, vitamins and amino acids said to have anti-allergen and anti-bacterial properties that purify the blood and human skin; Lenpur, which is made from wood pulp; soya, which is made from soybeans; bamboo jersey, which is anti-bacterial and deodorizing as well as highly eco-sustainable, as bamboo grows up to one a foot a day; and Eco-Spun, which is made from recycled soda bottles and when blended with organic cotton has the texture of sheepskin. When considering her fabrics, Loudermilk says, “If we can all become more aware of how everything we do affects everything and everyone else, we'll make better choices.”
In keeping with her commitment to the health of the planet, Loudermilk uses only eco-conscious materials and strives to maintain the utmost in responsible business practices. Loudermilk insists on partnering only with wholly sustainable companies. They consult with European textile watchdog groups like Ökeo-Tex, organic cotton trade organizations and a host of nonprofits that are regularly defining and redefining the meaning of sustainability in the fashion business and beyond. "Our biggest challenge is not choosing the right options, but finding them," says Loudermilk. Not surprisingly, Loudermilk insists on stringent labor standards and fair trade practices for her company and all companies with which she deals.
As an eco-designer, Loudermilk’s designs accentuate the distinction between eco-fashion and organic fashion. Eco-fashion supports environmental ideals of sustainability, organic sensitivities, and recycling, sometimes by turning refuse into apparel.
Most organic clothing designers and manufacturers create purely beautiful organic clothing that is functional, healthy for all, and utilitarian – yoga and exercise clothing that moves comfortably, pajamas and sleepwear that feel delicious and dreamy, and casual wear that looks great and makes you feel smooth and easy. Whereas, Loudermilk's haute couture made from environmentally-loving textiles is not intended to be practical. Like art, it nourishes the soul but won’t keep you warm.
Linda Loudermilk is an eco-warrior helping bring environment awareness and sustainable style to the well-heeled … but we can all enjoy vicariously.
For more information on luxury eco by Linda Loudermilk, visit her web site at www.lindaloudermilk.com