By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
I can understand why the use of silk is an issue for vegans. Whether or not you believe worms feel pain (and evidence shows they do), it seems rather twisted to boil millions upon millions of creatures to death so we can exploit their cocoons.
But then, from a sustainability perspective, many argue that silk bio-degrades easily, and is therefore kind to the planet. And that’s true. Silk is also gloriously soft, drapes like a dream, and feels wonderful on the body.
So what’s an animal-and-planet loving fashionista to do?
One innovative Italian brand has come up with the perfect solution to the silk dilemma: Ramie.
Derived from a flowering plant in the nettle family, ramie has actually been used for over 6,000 years for the production of fabric, mainly in China, Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines. But now the Italian label Balossa has centred its entire collection on Ramie, and the designs are spectacular.
They glorify the contemporary woman, with a style that sings out a bold hymn to feminine freedom, independence of thought and creative force. Various layers of vegan-friendly fabric create areas of transparency, with oversized cuffs and sleeves which all combine to create a perfect harmony between firm and soft, wide and close-fitting.
Balossa celebrate both the boldness and frailty of womanhood, along with seduction and bon ton, through enchanting geometries where a white hue prevails through a mixture of fabrics. Black and white prints create visually stunning optical effects, as ramie becomes the emblem of women’s fortitude, since this fibre is known for its ability to hold shape even when it is wet, as well as reducing wrinkling, and introducing a silky lustre to the fabric appearance.
Their most recent collection also introduces a new shade of soft pink combined with white, which homages Neo-Romanticism with large, elegant bows.
White is the undisputed star of the show, for good reason: this basic colour proves itself versatile as it assumes many nuances through various folds, panels and drapes, creating within each piece a separate introspective story of its own. Indeed, the colours of fresh snow, chalk, and milk come to life with myriad shades of fold and ruffle, soft and elegant, deconstructed and recomposed panels.
These clothes are different. They’re not only vegan friendly and sustainable, but they’re sporty, intriguing, and refined, with matching trouser/top combinations, but also jumpsuits and, above all, feminine frocks, all as light as a summer veil. The sacred white is interrupted by harmonious black prints, hiding hands, faces and all of the fantastic scribbles that originate in the dreams of the stylist.
This season’s Balossa trousers are characterised by a deconstructed seam, wide at the ankle, and slightly rounded at the back. Huge pockets are the trademark of this collection, be they on shirts, trousers, or skirts, and there is a serious versatility in these pieces, too. For example, the shirts for example are as delicate as veils, and can easily turn into mini-dresses, or kimonos, as well as elegant overcoats, and asymmetrical tops, adorned with wooden buttons.
The leitmotif of the collection is the belt; a black snake that coils, ropes and knots around the body in order to emphasise the waist, sleeves and closures. The same snake then becomes a brace; hugging the silhouette before seeming to escape into the very summer air. Hence, the stylistic centrepiece of the collection, is this soutoire of black fabric which dances around the waist in the form of belt, lace and knot, standing out against the white shirt, dancing lightly on the sleeves with a subtle wit before ending in metal tips.
Balossa’s collection offers a wonderful opportunity to caress your body for the first time with nature’s own vegan silk – we think ramie is beautifully showcased by Balossa, and we hope that other designers and consumers alike are inspired by the incredible things that can be done with it.
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