Fashion is something I have always admired and enjoyed. However, over the years my ideas on fashion and style have completely changed. I have gone from choosing what’s on trend and wearing things that are ‘cool’ but not necessarily suitable for me to choosing things that are most suited to me and free from any animal-derived materials. However, most people don’t put a second thought into the materials their clothing is made from. Silk, wool, leather, suede, fur and cashmere are just a few of the animal-derived fabrics often used to manufacture and create clothing, shoes and accessories. I now differ from most in the sense that I put animal welfare before fashion. A life is more important to me than a new dress.
Did you know approximately 2,500 silkworms are required to make just ONE metre of silk? (Bureau of Agricultural Research). So, when you factor in the number of metres required to make some dresses, specifically long gowns, you are probably looking at a minimum of 7,500 silkworms that must die for the cloth. Add in your leather shoes, leather bag and you’re virtually drowning in animal exploitation and cruelty.
That doesn’t sit well with me.
Recently I had the absolute pleasure of working with a small group of incredibly talented women to create a gown and ‘look’ for the Allan Border Medal. This is an annual event that I often attend on the wing of my partner, Sids, and something I look forward to every year (I don’t get out much). The dress code is Black Tie, so every year in early December I set myself the task of finding a new gown and accessories. However, the give-a-shit gauge had dropped substantially this year so I set the task to my friend and super stylist, Lana Wilkinson.
I met Lana a couple of years ago through a friend but I had never had the pleasure of working with her on a professional level (why the hell didn’t I call her earlier?). Thankfully, Lana knew of the Allan Border Medal and knew I was a vegan. However, when most people think of vegan they think of what you’re eating, not what you’re wearing. People can much easier connect with the idea that a medium-rare steak is a dead animal, however it seems harder for people to make the connection with a (hideous) rabbit fur vest having come from 35-50 dead rabbits. I swear 80% of the population still haven’t caught on to the fact that silk is made from silkworms. [Face palm].
That aside, Lana was onto it and all over it. I simply said to her, I don’t care what I wear, just make me look respectable and don’t include anything with any animal products. I wanted to send a message that to look styled and polished you don’t need to wear them. Lana completely understood my position and went about finding the designer best for the job. Her choice? Kyha at One Day Bridal.
Again, I had never had the pleasure of working with Kyha, but I had met her on a number of occasions through mutual friends. People knock down Kyha’s doors to get one of her gowns and a slice of her creativity draped over their bosoms. She is a young talent, super creative with a fondness for neutral colours. So my tendency to lean towards colour wasn’t going to work this time. White was the colour of choice for both Lana and Kyha and initially I was in two minds about it. Knowing my history of sending food straight down my front, I was open to the idea, but I couldn’t ensure it would come back the same colour. My love of food often dictates my colour choice.
Kyha wanted the gown to be modern with clean lines and have my shoulders free from any coverage with some back on show. The gown was to exude class and beauty whilst at the same time be completely different to anything i’ve worn before. I said do whatever you want and she did. And nailed it.
Polyester was used as the base material for the gown with the detailing made from raffia (hula, hula) and glass beads. Polyester turned out to be a dream to work with as it doesn’t crush like silk, it’s super easy to clean and it’s comfortable enough that I can actually breathe. I don’t know how Kyha did it, but she pulled here, tucked there, zipped there and it all came together perfectly. Stuff doesn’t come together like that unless you’ve got a real talent. Had it been me making the dress, I would have been attending in a gown made of hemp, similar to a sack, in a nice shade of fluorescent beige. Sids would have been wrapped.
To compliment the gown, I wore some stunning fine rings from Damselfly by Christianna Heideman and a vintage leather-free white clutch. I also had the incredibly talented Tobi Henney do my hair and make-up using Harlotte Cosmetics, Lash Republic by Milan & Co 100% human hair eyelashes and O&M hair products. She also styled the faux bob in my hair under the direction from Lana and Kyha, which was something completely foreign to me.
Overall, my look head to toe was completely cruelty-free and I am so proud of the team I had the pleasure of working with. My expectations were exceeded on all fronts and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. Even though Lana and Kyha’s beliefs may not reflect my own, they managed to create my look without question, objection or complaint. I asked them both at the completion of our project whether they found it more difficult to create something without the use of animal-derived materials and their answer was simple.
The Fabulous Team
Stylist: Lana Wilkinson @lanawilkinson
Gown: Kyha at One Day Bridal @onedaybridal
Jewels: Damselfly @damselfly_official
Hair & Make Up: Tobi Henney @tobimakeup @thebridalmakeupco