Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chewy Not "Crunchy"

Okay, first I have to confess that I stole that title from our wonderful friends at Boutique Chartreuse in St. Louis, who blogged about my recycled candy wrapper dress and came up with that clever phrase. I simple couldn't come up with anything nearly as catchy on my own, so I just had to use it.

That said, on to the sweet stuff. And I mean that literally.

A few months ago, the Apparel Industries Board of Chicago contacted me about creating a dress from candy wrappers for an event called Sweet Chic. Sweet Chic was to be the the finale to Chicago's Fashion Week, and would entail 14 Chicago Fashion Designers teaming up with 14 Chicago Apparel Designers to create couture designs (made from candy wrappers and boxes). The designs would premier at the Museum of Contemporary Art on October 11th, then be auctioned off with all profits going to the Spina Bifida Association of Illinois. Pretty cool.

I was assigned Charleston Chew. Perhaps now it is all coming together as the title of this blog begins to make sense. You know, eco-fashion tends to be associated with being crunchy or granola and all that. Here at Mountains of the Moon, we set out way back when to break this stereotype. And since I was approached about designing my dress from Charleston Chew wrappers and to create a piece that was wearable yet couture, in the end, my dress was not crunchy at all. It was however, chewy. Not literally (I didn't use actual candy), but it was made up of hundreds of Charleston Chew wrappers (which I am still, weeks later, randomly finding not only in every corner of my studio, but also in places like my bathtub and attached to my dog's paws). My boyfriend and I even made up a Charleston Chew robot dance that was induced by the temporary insanity caused by working with these wrappers into the wee hours of the night (and morning) for several weeks. So this design was, truly, a chewy, not crunchy, eco-masterpiece (that sounds really arrogant to call it a masterpiece, but hey, it sounds good when you read it, so I'm leaving it).

I'll spare you the agonizing details of the composition of the design, but I will say that Charleston Chew wrappers do not like to be made into art. They don't sew without ripping. They resist several types of glue. They stick together in very inconvenient places. But through much experimentation, I was able to make it work in the end. I combined the wrappers with vintage silk into an Audrey Hepburn-inspired dress with a modern twist (the bubble/balloon skirt which was hand-tacked and stuffed with tulle).

It was really a wonderful experience for me (despite the ridiculous amount of time that went into it), because it gave me the opportunity to create an eco-friendly work of wearable art from recycled materials that would have otherwise ended up in some landfill. I am used to working with organic and sustainable fabrics everyday, but this was an entirely new adventure. It really did have quite an effect on me, and now I find myself looking at everyday objects that many would consider trash, and envisioning new ways to turn them into art.

The creations are currently on display at shops along the Magnificent Mile (that is the portion of Michigan Avenue where all of the fancy fashion boutiques and department stores are, for all you non-Chicagoans), and afterward will be listed online for auction. I will be sure to post that link once the website is active.

I now dream of ways to empty my trash bin on the floor of my studio and make recycled art from its contents. Gross or fabulous? Perhaps a little of both, but most definitely just one of the many ways we can all combine creativity with environmentalism, which is a wonderful thing in my book.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grunge or Gorge(ous)

I've never been one to blog, but I definitely can't ignore the blog boom. It's great; an optional perspective. A freedom to listen to someone as a friend without ever having to commit to actually listening or responding. Brilliant!

Now that I have that off my chest...

I've come to a new understanding of fashion. Once I was old enough to push and pull, nothing frilly or pink came close to me. My mothers saddest day. After having two boys all she wanted was her little girl dressed in pink frills. Little did she know, she had just birthed a third boy, her little tomboy. I stood by this lifestyle for most of my life (if not all so far). Even through college I was never one to think twice about what I was wearing (which ended up being the same pair of jeans, chuck taylors and bandanna for four years).

I ended up working for a store in college that sold Mountains of the Moon clothing (definitely the best garments the store had to offer). After college I started running the MotM booth at Bonnaroo. But it wasn't until a few months ago that I actually started caring what I looked like and wore (I honestly am still struggling between grunge and gorge(ous)). It's a tough decision for me, one that I struggle with daily. And when I argue with myself I always come to the same final thought - It's about reduce reuse recycle but don't forget to love yourself. I try to take everything I have and turn it into something I'll wear or give it up and donate it. If I buy something new, or see something I like, I try to research the eco-alternative. And in the end, after doing so much for the earth (including taking home and recycling the paper that the chop sticks from my favorite sushi restaurant come in) its important to show yourself some love and appreciation - after all.. we are part of this earth too!

Supporting happy, healthy, eco-everyones,

It's a Beautiful day in my neighborhood...

Hello out there in Blog land!

I just wanted to take a moment to share a bit of information about a really cool part of our country that I'm now proud to call home. It goes hand in hand with the world of all things Eco, at least I feel it does.

This little corner of my world is a bit unique in that it is a conservation community. We not only have beautiful, protected prairie to live amongst, but there are also several things about this place, that once again, I'm proud to call home and I can't help but share it with cyberspace!!!

Prairie Crossing hosts its organic farm where we can buy anything from eggs to chickens, to produce, to amazing flowers in the summer months. A percentage of the energy in Prairie Crossing is provided by a wind turbine. We have a Metra train line within walking distance of my house, which definitely helps in these dreadful economic times in which we are living. Since I've moved into this neighborhood I seem to only get in my car once every 3-4 days, and it's starting to feel very foreign to be behind the wheel of a car now. Any of you who are reading this and live in the suburbs can most likely understand how strange that must be because in my old 'hood I had to drive everywhere, multiple times per day.

I'm also very proud to say that both of my children are being educated at a most amazing Charter School that sets up shop within my community. Here's a little blurb taken from our school's website that pretty much sums up school in a nutshell:

"The cornerstone of the Prairie Crossing Charter School is excellence in education, grounded in experience of the local environment. The curriculum draws upon the students' hands-on experiences in the school's natural setting of prairies and wetlands and at the Prairie Crossing Farm."

We are so honored to be a part of this school, and to know that we are helping to raise two little being who have an awareness of our plant/environment that some kids will never have. Living here makes me feel like there is hope for our planet yet. :)

Life is Good.... Hopefully you will enjoy taking a look at this place I call home!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

In the Spirit of Sustainability

Hello! So, you're here because you want to green your life, you say? How's your hybrid driving, farmers market shopping, canvas toting, Kleen Kanteen- carrying, Brita-on-your-sink-faucet, wind harvesting, bike riding, eco-fit ass doing this lovely fall morning? Wonderful? Fabulous!

We hear so much these days about ways to go green. Odds are, you've already taken many/most/all of the steps above. We write about them in blogs, newspapers, television, festivals, conventions...we make Youtube and box office hits about the eco-movement and we seem- pending Nov. 4th- to be headed in the right direction as a country.

It's easier than ever to make eco-friendly lifestyle choices, from the clothes you wear, to what you choose to eat (and where you choose to buy it from), and now, (YAY!!) the spirits industry has stepped up to the plate with their contribution...that's right folks, ECO VODKA!

Maybe I'm getting a little to excited about this, but maybe not. Sustainable products- whatever they are- have countless benefits. It's about the quality of the product, but also about the quality of the ethos behind it. It's about the plain sight benefits- the superior taste, texture and image, but also take into account the hidden values like creating more American jobs- green jobs- especially for the struggling agriculture industries, creating the product organically, without pesticides, artificial hormones or fertilizers in the corn-base, and also packaging the final product in recycled paper, soy-based ink printed labels, bamboo casing, etc, etc.

Let's look at a few top notch organic vodkas on the market and why they're better than your average Smirnoff, Ketel or Goose...

Square One Organic Vodka
Check out the packaging on this one. They forgo the popular "frosting effect," to avoid a slew of nasty chemicals, they print their labels on sustainably harvested bamboo, cotton and bagasse, and (i LOVE this), once the bottle is finished, the label peels off and the glass bottle is reusable for a water jug, carafe, flower vase- whatever!

Prairie Organic Vodka
Apart from tasting awesome, this distillery converts corncobs and other biomass into bioGAS for powering the stills! They, literally, use their product to run their own cool is that?

This next vodka, I have not personally tried, YET, but I can't wait to sample after being WOWED by their corporate ethos of sustainability. This is a company who (at least strongly appears) to really be doing it right:

Vodka 14
Their tagline is: "The Height of Purity"...I'll bite. Check this out: They draw their water from a 200 ft. deep aquifer in the mountains, purchase their grain from individual farmers (grown all in the U.S.A.), every step in the distillation is free from chemicals (even chemical cleaning products), and every element in their packaging is completely recyclable.

Finally, Rain Organic Vodka, probably the most widely seen in bars, at least in the Chicago area. Truth be told this is my favorite tasting of the organic vodkas mentioned here, but doesn't really compete in other areas of sustainability- mainly packaging. Their frosted, chemically- treated bottle isn't the most eco friendly one in town, but it's still light years away from the Gooses of the world.

So, in conclusion, it turns out the only "green" cocktail around isn't the appletini. Organic vodkas can raise your social consciousness...unless of course, you drink too many and become socially unconscious :)

Oh! How could I forget! Make sure to join the lovely ladies of MotM as we celebrate our fall line launch part with ORGANIC VODKA MARTINIS at Crust- Eat Real restaurant...the first all organic restaurant in the Midwest, this coming Tuesday, October 21st at 7:30pm. See Melissa's blog below for details!

Always drink responsibly.



Monday, October 13, 2008

Smart. Sustainable. Delicious...?

First of all, a little off-topic note. We have no excuse for letting so much time pass between posts, dear readers. So what if I was slaving over my candy wrapper dress (we'll save that for a future entry), preparing for Fashion Focus (Chicago Fashion Week), and finishing up the spring '09 line? Who cares if Corinne was tending to her newborn child, or if Kari was moving her entire house and family into a new abode??? Or if Rachel was taking care of artists at Austin City Limits and planning MotM events galore, while Morgan was teaching her students about how to be thoughtful, caring citizens of America??? I mean, obvi the smart. sustainable. style. blog is much more significant that all of these things combined. So please forgive us. We promise to do better.

That said, on to the good stuff. There is deep meaning behind the title of this entry, my friends. Here at Mountain sof the Moon, we've decided to do something a little different this month. And it involves not only fashion and food, but sustainability as well. Sounds like a delightful, delicious dream.

Mountains of the Moon Eco.Fashion is teaming up with Crust, the first certified organic restaurant/bar in the Midwest to bring you our 2008 MotM Fall Collection Launch Party. We are quite excited about this soiree, because it proves that the many worlds of the sustainaibility movement can come together to create something bigger - and more fun - than we can create as individuals.

If you are in the Chicago area on October 21st, say around 7:30 PM, come check out our latest fall designs, meet fellow eco-warriors, and try delicious organic foods and drinks for very eco-special prices. (Did we mentioned you'll also get 10% off all items from our fall collection?).

Visit the Crust website or Mountains of the Moon's website for more info. And if you can make it, bring your pals. Organic food and eco-friendly clothing together in one place is definitely a cause for celebration.

melissa, who admits that she is the most excited for the organic vodka.