From an interesting cooperation between the university of Copenhagen and the Victoria & Albert museum in Londen, came the exhibit ‘Fashioned from Nature‘ in the Geological museum Copenhagen, from april 13th to september 1st 2019. I was in Copenhagen this summer and of course had to visit it.

photo of jewel betels
Photo: Jewel Beetles. © Natural History Museum of Denmark
photo of victorian dress with jewel beetles
Photo: Dress decorated with Jewel Beetles (with later alterations and replica belt), 1868-9. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The exhibit showed how fashion in the eighteenth and nineteenth century until now took its inspiration from nature, but also the materials it used from nature. From wool to feathers, from dyes to beetles. It showed the environmental of clothing production. It showed how man-made and natural fibres were being made now and in the past but also the new and promising textile fibers that might be better for our planet. There also was a room dedicated to environmental activism and fashion AND there was a display case with jewels. In short, there might have been a bit too much to see. And what I missed from the exhibition was the discussion of microplastics and how they leak from our clothing into the air and the water. I also expected to see the costumes from the promotional banner:

But, I am nitpicking here. Overall it was a fantastic exhibition that I enjoyed very much and learned a lot from. (I picked up the exhibit book afterwards!) There were stays, dresses, accessories, everything. The modern textile part of the exhibition was really interesting. One of the textile was a 100% biologically degradable paper-like fabric (“Pulp-it”.) You don’t wash the garment, but wear it 5 times or so and then compost it. Because of the many liters of water that are wasted washing our garments, and our current preference for fast fashion, this is a really promising product innovation. Other notable innovations in the exhibition included textiles grown from fungi roots, “Bolt threads” and of course linnen. Now linnen (won from the Flax plant) has been used for ages – but from of all the more commonly used fabrics this day it is by far the least pollutant and most durable. Especially the linnen grown in the EU, because of legislation. A special mention goes to seal fur. According to the museum, it is seen as a sustainable material in Denmark and Greenland from the Inuit way of living. I’m not sure everybody would feel about it this way.

Visit the website of the Danish Natural History museum here: https://geologi.snm.ku.dk/english/

Photo of Man's silk waistcoat embroidered in silk with a pattern of macaque monkeys, 1780-89.
Photo: Man’s silk waistcoat embroidered in silk with a pattern of macaque monkeys, 1780-89.
photo of animals and plants with red dyes in them
Red dyes. Special Exhibition Fashioned from Nature, Natural History Museum of Denmark © Photo: Frederik Wolff Nisbeth Teglhus
Photo of edwardian era dress
Special Exhibition Fashioned from Nature, Natural History Museum of Denmark © Photo: Frederik Wolff Nisbeth Teglhus
Fungi dress
‘Rootbound #2’ dress by Diana Scherer, 2017 © Diana Scherer.
photo of victorian dresses
Special Exhibition Fashioned from Nature, Natural History Museum of Denmark © Photo: Frederik Wolff Nisbeth Teglhus

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