flor et al ethical fashion is bound to be your new favourite brand, too. Here’s why
By Chere Di Boscio
It’s not often I fall completely in love with a sustainable fashion brand. There have been a few that have really, really caught my attention: Amur, Thoreau the Label and Mara Hoffman, for example. But when I first laid eyes on flor et al, it was definitely love at first sight.
The richness of the fabrics, the dazzling colours, the draping and the frills -oh, the frills! I found it all completely irresistible.
I had to get to know more about this label and who was behind it. And what I learned surprised me.
Who is flor et al?
There is no one designer behind this exquisite label. Instead, it’s a collective effort of Karin Gardkvist, the Design Director, Nadia Manjarrez, the Development Designer and Clothing Designer Milad Khoreibani. What’s most interesting about this trio is their incredibly diverse backgrounds.
Gardkvist is a Swede who studied at the London College of Fashion and Middlesex University. Following graduation, she secured a coveted job at Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. Her experience at Preen led to the Head Designer job at Marchesa Notte, where she led a successful collection for 5 years. She says she believes “creativity is borderless and fluid,” and this is reflected in her collaborations with artisans around the world to help produce fabric prints that she believes reflect global standards of beauty.
Manjarrez, on the other hand, hails from Mexico and once wanted to be an astronaut until she realised her hobby of making clothing could be converted into a viable career. Her Latin background means she keeps curvier bodies in mind when designing – she says she wants the woman wearing Flor et al clothing “to feel confident and elegant, while still staying true to herself.”
Finally, Khoreibani may have the most interesting background of all: he came from the Ivory coast to Lebanon, NYC and Paris, where he attended ESMOD, the prestigious French design school. He decided to pursue a career in fashion after he received positive feedback from the acclaimed haute couture designer Elie Saab during the presentation of his final collection for his degree in design and pattern making.
After 6 years of designing a sportswear line with his partner Blair Stanley in New York, Milad went on to work for Marchesa before joining the team at flor et.al.
Their latest collection
The flor et al ethical fashion design team were all inspired by the aesthetic of Sofia Coppola’s film, Marie Antoinette and Petit Trianon, the palace in Versailles where she lived. As a result, their Resort 2020 collection features ruffles, oversized sheer sleeves and bare shoulders, all in rich hues of orange, pink and blue, which were featured in the film’s garden scenes. Soft purples, pastel blues and yellows can be found throughout the collection, representing springtime in the Palace of Versailles.
This season, the brand collaborated with Italian artists to create their transfer floral print which was made out of edited floral photos. The team also created their own leopard print, which can be seen on rich jacquards throughout the collection. These leopard jacquards as well as the duchess satins were all made using recycled fibers.
I know that flor et al ethical fashion is not only gorgeous, but is consciously produced and sustainable, too. But I needed to know more about how this was true. I was also curious to know why the label was so damned elegant when more and more labels are become increasingly casual.
In fact, I had loads of questions, and I thought I would share them – and the trio’s answers – with you here.
Tell us a bit about how the collections are sustainable?
For our Resort 2020 collection we used recycled fabrics for several of our styles as well as silk, which is a natural material certified to have no harmful substances. We also exclusively use digital printing for our prints, which reduces water waste, and electricity consumption as well as entirely eliminates the by-production of waste dyes
Why isn’t everything in the collections sustainable?
We are working toward incorporating sustainability in a larger way with each season. Sustainability isn’t just an environmental issue – we’re also looking for sustainable talent.
There are so many talented artisans throughout the world with immense talent, and through the non-profit NEST, we’re able to connect with these artisans and provide work and an opportunity for them to continue their handcrafted traditions. For our Fall collection, we partnered with artisans in Turkey who hand crocheted hearts that were used as trimmings on our pieces, for example. This partnership will continue to expand in coming seasons as well.
What does fashion mean to you?
We’re a global design team from Sweden, Lebanon, and Mexico. Our various cultures have given us each a global perspective on beauty and fashion; this plays a role in the development and design of the collection. Fashion is an expression of one’s individual sense of style, and we wanted to offer lots of separates that could be mixed and matched to create a personalized look unique to the wearer.
What about the Marie Antoinette film inspired you to make this collection?
We wanted to look into a female director and have always liked Sofia Coppola films. Marie Antoinette and Petit Trianon, the palace in Versailles where she lived, inspired the use of ruffles, oversized sheer sleeves and bare shoulders.
The colour palette includes rich oranges and bold blues that were featured in the film in the garden scenes. Soft purples, pastel blues and yellows can be found throughout the collection and represent springtime in the Palace of Versailles.
Who is the typical flor et al woman?
She is a strong, independent woman who is not scared to wear colour and prints. She’s confident and she doesn’t mind being the center of attention. Finally, she is socially cultured, well-travelled, and environmentally conscious, of course!
Which sustainable designers most inspire you with their work?
Stella McCartney is a pioneer in sustainable luxury, and has really paved the way for other designers like us. We try to follow her lead in making fashion collections fit for the world we live in today.
Finally, in a world where athleisure wear rules, why did you choose to design ‘fancier’ clothing?
The athleisure market is saturated, but yet there’s not much in the eveningwear market like flor et.al. There weren’t options out there for women who wanted non-traditional contemporary evening wear. We’re filling that void, offering alternatives to a gown such as a formal jumpsuit, or a beautiful top paired with pants or ball skirt.
If you’re as obsessed as I am with flor et al and would like to learn more about them, please click here.