Few people working in fashion lingerie design have as much eco-cred as Rio Wrenn, the visual artist and designer who runs R.A.W. Textiles.
That’s not a slight against the rest of the industry — the growing use of sustainable materials and ecologically sound manufacturing processes has been significant — but a testament to Rio’s visionary approach to green fashion.
Who else uses compost and scrap metal, used tea bags and recycled plastic — to make lingerie?!?!
If you think that sounds like she’s been inhaling too much hemp, think again. Rio is a very committed visual artist who finds utterly unique ways to recycle the detritus of modern life in a way that is not just artistically relevant but wearable as well.
The image above shows Rio’s Bottlecap Bellydance bra from her new Pre-Soiled Couture collection, and yes, those are real bottle caps. The collection debuted at an exhibition in Portland, OR (America’s hippest city), last fall and should be viewable on her website soon.
Rio has also produced more conventional lingerie sets using organic fabrics in unique patterns created by her experiments with dyeing, or ‘rusting’ as she calls it. (It’s not just a metaphor, either: much of her textile art uses actual rust in the dyeing.) Here’s a lovely item from last year’s collection:
While her hand-dyed fabrics stand on their own quite well as fashion, it’s worth taking the time to understand what she is trying to achieve when she makes them. Here’s what she says:
The natural process of aging and decay in our society and our bodies has lead me to further investigate my rusting process. Lately, I am drawn to pattern for its role in traditional fabric production and story-like quality through repetition. The individual objects I rust come together to move through the silks as they take on a personal and almost sensual feeling.
I like to use raw materials as a connection to the earth and traditions of the past that creates a dialog which reflects upon our contemporary society in how we utilize our resources, while finding new patterns and uses for our societal evolution.
The images below show some of the corsets, dresses and other pieces from Rio’s 2011 collection, and were shot by Spencer Watson. We’ll let you know when Rio’s next range comes to market.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!