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July 28 2014

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11 posts tagged "Amber Valletta"

Melissa Joy Manning and Amber Valletta Bring Sustainability to Soho

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Melissa Joy Manning Store

For more than ten years now, California-based designer Melissa Joy Manning has been crafting ethically sourced, delicately sculptural eco-jewelry. Tonight, she opens her first New York flagship store with a private party, which her pal, model and actress Amber Valletta, will cohost. The two share a passion for sustainable design—they work together on the CFDA’s Sustainability Committee, and Valletta recently launched her own eco-conscious e-commerce site, Master & Muse, which offers sustainable wares from labels like Vivienne Westwood and M.Patmos. Now they’re pushing for sustainable consciousness throughout the industry, and Manning’s almost entirely green new store is a testament to her dedication to the cause. Located at 12 Wooster Street, the 4,500-square-foot boutique boasts details crafted almost entirely from relics found in the 1880s manufacturing space-turned-loft. Manning’s centerpieces, for instance, were made from repurposed display cases, and a wall of jewelry boxes was born out of the building’s old wooden doors. “I really wanted to almost become the caretaker of the space—elevate it, stabilize it, and reuse everything that we found,” said Manning, who will carry eco-conscious pieces from designers like Pamela Love and Mark Davis. “Aside from half a dozen pieces, everything was reused.”

Ahead of the store’s opening, we caught up with Manning and Valletta to discuss their friendship, how to further the sustainable fashion dialogue, and why big brands need to “come out of the [eco] closet.”

You’ve been working to promote sustainability in fashion for quite some time. What is the main priority right now? What should the fashion industry be focusing on as a whole?
Melissa Joy Manning: We’re in an education phase. There are certain people who are doing really great sustainability work already, but in the luxury sector, we have consumers who are able to pay a little bit more or who can become educated and drive trends. Our efforts in the CFDA are about asking designers to make thoughtful choices, then providing them with the information that allows them to do so. In a consumer market where it’s supply versus demand, if we’re demanding the right products, we’re eventually going to switch the supply and all fashion will have to be sustainable, right? The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest gross consumer—and gross polluter—and if we don’t make changes now, there are going to be some really dire consequences.

Amber Valletta: It’s really about education and awareness. We’re seeing more and more articles about all these things that are happening in the world and in our country. Sustainability is about workers’ rights, too. A few people were killed in Jakarta a week ago over protesting for their wages. We’re seeing an upswing in the consciousness of making things sustainably—not just on the environmental level but on the human level. Because of that, consumers are asking, “What’s really happening? I thought we fixed this problem with child labor.” But it’s not a done deal. There are serious problems that we’re facing throughout the fashion industry, from the beginnings of making textiles to the finished products. Consumers aren’t completely aware of how begging for new products every two weeks is hurting the planet and workers. And I don’t mean that in a hippie or granola way. I love luxury items and beautiful things and great design, but I do believe that sustainability can go hand in hand with great design.

What designers or brands are getting it right at the moment?
AV: There are a lot. Natalie Chanin won the CFDA Eco-Fashion Challenge for her company called Alabama Chanin. She’s pretty incredible. On a community level, she’s getting people back to work and getting them employed, and she’s helping to bring back the textile business in the South, which was on its way out. Daniel Silverstein is great; Isabell de Hillerin is great. We could give you lists and lists! And I think it’s just a matter of time before these names pop and become bigger brands. I don’t think any of these guys are trying to be household names. But I think these brands have weight and staying power.

MJM: To Amber’s point, I think small businesses or small companies can take more risks and make choices that are based on responsibility as opposed to profit. There are also a lot of brands that are making sustainable efforts but are afraid to say what they’re doing until they’re one hundred percent. Adidas, for instance, won’t publish all of its sustainable accomplishments. In order to create momentum within the industry, we need to build brands up, rather than knocking them down by saying, “Oh, you’re eighty percent sustainable, but it’s not enough.” My hope [is that] through our committee and through working with people like Amber and her website, we will be able to bolster them and create more proactive, positive change.

AV: I totally agree with Melissa. These bigger companies that are actually household names are doing so much—more than what we know. They [need to] come out of the closet basically and start joining in on the conversation. It’s not a black-and-white subject. We need more transparency from everybody. Continue Reading “Melissa Joy Manning and Amber Valletta Bring Sustainability to Soho” »

Eco-Fashion Challenge: Accepted

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Amber VallettaOn the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, it’s only appropriate that the Council of Fashion Designers of America should turn its attention to the environment. At a New York luncheon yesterday, the CFDA and Lexus announced the winners of the Eco-Fashion Challenge—an annual event that rewards designers for their environmentally responsible fashion. “It’s only the tip of the iceberg,” said Amber Valletta, who, wearing a Daniel Silverstein dress cut from zero waste, predicted that there will be a major shift in eco-friendly design in another five years. “It’s necessary, responsible, and economical. Luxury is about being thoughtful and sustainable from the beginning.”

Guests including Coco Rocha, Steven Sebring, Maria Cornejo, and Steven Kolb filed into ABC Kitchen for the affair. Over shared plates of locally sourced crab toast and braised mushroom, they applauded top winner Natalie “Alabama” Chanin for her organic, handcrafted wares. “Hand embroidery is very engrained in rural communities in America,” Chanin said. She pointed to the hand-sewn skirt from her namesake label that she was wearing, explaining how she sources the organic cotton from Texas, then has it processed and dyed in North Carolina before it’s sewn by Alabama artisans.

The selection committee, which included Valletta, fashion consultant Julie Gilhart, and CFDA’s Lisa Smilor, among others, also gave awards to Mark Davis for his jewelry, and SVILU’s Britt Cosgrove and Marina Polo for their environmentally sound, understated womenswear.

Photo: Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc.com

Even Kimye Will Come Out for a Good Cause

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Gelila Puck, Franca Sozzani, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian

Last night in L.A., some of the biggest names in fashion, music, film, and food came together at the inaugural gala and auction for Wolfgang and Gelila Puck’s Dream for Future Africa Foundation. Gelila, who was born in Ethiopia, founded the organization in 2010 in order to help the children of Africa. Indeed, it’s a good cause—one that drew everyone from Karolina Kurkova, Angela Lindvall, and Dita Von Teese to Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, and Reed Krakoff. “Tonight as I was getting ready, standing in my closet, this white gown called out to me,” the hostess said of her Deco dress. “I chose to wear white to represent our organic spirit in honor of our mission.”

As guests including Ali Larter, Maria Sharapova, Devon Aoki, and Rachel Zoe mingled, a newly engaged Kanye West and Kim Kardashian arrived just in time to greet the evening’s honoree, Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani. “I doubt Franca knows this, but my first modeling job was with Vogue Italia,” said Amber Valletta while introducing Sozzani to the crowd. She later added that the editor changed the course of her career. Taking the stage to accept her accolade, Sozzani coined the night’s catchphrase: “Giving back is the new luxury.”

Photo: Getty Images

Giles Deacon’s Photo Finish

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Giles Deacon Spring '14Yesterday, Giles Deacon sent an eye-catching, screen print-saturated Spring ’14 collection down the runway—though it wasn’t the catwalkers turning heads so much as the models spotted on the garments. According to Vogue.co.uk, Deacon’s first three looks featured never-before-used photos of Amber Valletta from Glen Luchford’s 1997 Prada test shoot—that’s two this week for the muse. Luchford snaps of Kate Moss also made an appearance on Giles’ Spring looks, and some have suggested that the collection’s glittering, gap-toothed mouth motif was a nod to stylist Katie Grand’s grin. Considering Grand and Deacon have been pals and colleagues for decades, we don’t think it’s too wild a guess.

Photos: Yannis Vlamos/ IndigitalImages.com

Selling Sustainability With Amber Valletta and Yoox.com

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Amber Valletta“It’s fashion-forward to buy better,” model-turned-mom-turned-model-again Amber Valletta reasons, providing perhaps the best tagline for her latest endeavor, Master & Muse. The eco-fashion initiative with Yooxygen (the environmentally aware arm of yoox.com) is aiming to gain a few converts with that credo as well as a carefully selected list of brands that Valletta found herself. “We sought out designers and brands that provide high-fashion luxury coupled with sustainability,” Valletta says of the range, which hits yoox.com tomorrow. She later explained that, like the duality evident in the relationship between a master and a muse, “style does not have to be at the expense of social responsibility. They are interdependent and interconnected.”

The two-hundred-piece collection includes core apparel and accessory designs from the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Good Society, and M Patmos. The selection plays with the contradictions Valletta sees in femininity. The Master, more rigorous and tailored, counterbalances the Muse, more poetic and eclectic. But no matter their divide, “it comes down to great design, sourcing and producing both ethically and sustainably,” Valletta maintains. “The brands we offer on Master & Muse are problem-solving through innovation,” she adds. She hopes the project will help inspire continued change throughout the fashion industry. Get a sneak peek at some Master & Muse wares from Mich Dulce, M Patmos, Guava, and Vivienne Westwood (below), as well as a Craig McDean-lensed campaign image (above), exclusively on Style.com.

For more information, visit Masterandmuse.com. The full collection will be available starting tomorrow, September 17, at yoox.com.

Continue Reading “Selling Sustainability With Amber Valletta and Yoox.com” »