Loewe: Who is hiding behind the living plants seen at the Spring/Summer 2023 show?

It was hard to miss the lively greenery that sprung up from bits of the track at Loewe‘s spring/summer 2023 in Paris this weekend, which explored the relationship between nature and technology (or the “fusion of the organic and the manufactured”, as creative director jonathan anderson Put the).

But incorporating living plants into clothing was no small feat, and the result of months of collaboration with the Spanish textile designer Paula Ulargui Escalonawho began to develop his technique during the last year of his degree in fashion design and communication at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Madrid.

Four months of consultation between the designer and Loewe

“We spent four months testing different clothes [and] accessories until we decide which ones we want and which plants we want”, Ulargui Escalona recount vogue to work with Loewe, whose design team approached her directly about her work. “It was actually very difficult because I’m in Spain, so I had to grow them here and then send them to Paris in 24 hours. There was always this tension [of seeing whether] they were still going to be good when they arrived.

Chia plants and catswort were grown on the runway pieces at Loewe.

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The clothes were created in collaboration with Paula Ulargui Escalona.

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Final choice

Eventually the team landed on chia and catswort plants for the collection, with the seeds prepared in advance by Ulargui Escalona in Spain. They were then transported to Paris, where they were grown in a polytunnel 20 days before the show – with the designer on hand to ensure the plants had the right conditions and all the nutrients and minerals they needed.

“You always have to find a way to [help] the plants grow better without damaging the fabric,” she explains. “You have to check if they need more light, if they need more water, if they need a [certain] type of nutrient. You can check the colors of the leaves to guess what they need. The most complex thing is to be able to see all this and react quickly. »

A risk for Loewe

Indeed, the decision to work with live plants was a bit of a gamble on Loewe’s part, despite Ulargui Escalona’s years of perfecting his technique. “A few days ago it was 40 degrees [Celcius] in Paris and we were all panicked because we didn’t know if [the plants] it was going to be nice”, continues the textile designer. “It’s amazing that they [took the] risk.”

Living plants were incorporated into shoes for Loewe’s Spring/Summer 2022 men’s show.

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Reconnect with nature

As anderson, Ulargui Escalona sees the incorporation of plants into clothing as a way to open the conversation about fashion’s relationship with nature. “My goal when I started this project was to highlight how important it is to reconnect with nature, to care for it, and to really understand that fashion needs to be more sustainable,” she says.

While the Loewe plant parts will not be commercially available, they reflect a wider movement within the industry to create plant-based materials that actually have a positive impact on the planet – with algae-based innovations that can actually absorb CO2 from the atmosphere being a prime example.

In the meantime, however, Ulargui Escalona is looking for how she can go even further with her living plant textiles – and who knows, maybe you could have live plants growing in your wardrobe sooner rather than later. “You can actually keep them alive in your tissues as long as you take care of them,” she concludes. “I actually think it could be super therapeutic for a person to have an item of clothing like that to take care of. It’s [about building] a connection. I think that’s what we need right now: more conscious consumers, taking care of what we have and trying to reconnect with nature. »

This article originally appeared on Vogue.co.uk