Sustainable florals at our Spring 21 show
This season, the presentation of our Spring Ready-to-Wear collection has transitioned from a traditional runway show to an immersive, digital runway and short film experience. Creative Director Nicky Zimmermann’s inspiration for the Spring 2021 collection, ‘Wild Botanica’, is a direct expression of the unique flora and fauna of her home country, Australia. Centred around the botanical artwork of Australian artist, Ellis Rowan, the unique floral shapes and unexpected colour combinations are evident within each aspect of the garments’ designs - most notably the use of ten of Rowan’s works as statement prints.
Nicky Zimmermann explains, “We often start a collection with a focus on print and this season I wanted to work with botanical art with an Australian focus. I came across works by Ellis Rowan, a trailblazing artist, naturalist and explorer from the turn of the last century, who’s style traversed science and creativity. She was known for painting accurate depictions of wildflowers, insects and birds but with a very feminine, colourful and imaginative handle. We have been very fortunate to partner with the National Library and others to be given the opportunity to bring ten of these works to life in various prints in the collection.”
The National Library of Australia (NLA) owns the largest archive of Ellis Rowan’s work. Zimmermann is proud to support the NLA’s Treasured Voices campaign through a charitable donation, aiding in the completion of the library’s digital archive for Ellis Rowan through the digitisation of the artists’ personal letters and journal; as well as its photography archive from esteemed Melbourne studio portrait and fashion photographer Louis Athol Shmith (1914 – 1990). The Treasured Voices campaign aims to digitise the most important, impactful and unique areas of its collection in order to remove geographical, economic and other barriers and make them more widely accessible. Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, Director-General of the National Library of Australia, explains, “Digitisation allows us to share the rich treasures of our collection with millions of Australians who otherwise may not have the opportunity to explore and engage with these historic items”.
Images of the growing and drying process at East Coast Wildflowers, located on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia.
With a real emphasis on native Australian flora and fauna throughout the collection, we looked to carry this theme through to the set design of our digital presentation. The florals used on set are reminiscent of the shapes, colours and prints on the garments, allowing the runway to seamlessly correspond with the collection. Partnering with Michelle Jank as Creative Director of the presentation, Rizer, Grandiflora & the East Coast Wildflowers Floral Teams led by Saskia Havekes, we were conscious of implementing the most environmentally friendly set with the lowest level eco footprint possible. Ensuring all florals were sustainably farmed, sourced and repurposed after the show’s completion was at the forefront of our collaborative strategy.
Our large range of florals were sourced from multiple farms across New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia – Eucalyptus Silver Dollar Gum from Eden, Eucalyptus Woodwardii from Swan Hill, Eucalyptus Macrocarpa from Western Victoria and Western New South Wales, and Pink Waratahs from The Oaks near Camden. Using fresh, local produce from twelve farms across the country instead of importing the flora significantly reduced our potential carbon footprint.
Our main contributor was East Coast Wildflowers, located on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Being a generational farm, they uphold years of experience producing the highest quality natives, including Wattle, Waratah and Paper Daisies. The team at East Coast Wildflowers grow their produce as sustainably as possible and already have a number of processes in place to do so, not limited to:
• Minimising the use of chemicals across the farm
• Moving in-ground plants to potted cultures to prevent disease
• Using mulch to conserve water and add microbiome algae back to the soil
• Ensuring all flowers that are not at a high enough standard for sale are repurposed as mulch
All growing processes are under constant review with horticultural scientists researching pests and diseases in order to improve their sustainability program.
Following the immediate completion of our Spring 21 virtual runway, we repurposed all florals on set to adhere to sustainable practices and ensure as little waste possible - while also brightening the day of people in our community. Our floral repurposing plan consists of six distribution methods:
• TAFE Ultimo: Students provided with the flowers to practice arrangements and composition as part of their tertiary study and redistributed as gifts to the medical staff at St Vincent's and Royal Prince Alfred hospitals
• TAFE Padstow and Richmond: Students used the flowers to create a ‘public art piece’ celebrating Australian native flora which will remain on campus for the upcoming months
• Oz Harvest: Floral bunches were made onsite for Oz Harvest to distribute amongst their charity network
• Women’s and Girls Emergency Centre (WAGEC): Floral bunches were made onsite for WAGEC to distribute amongst three Women’s refuges in Sydney that provide intervention for women and children who are at risk
• Sydney Flower Market: Florals were re-sold with all proceeds being donated to The Ovarian Cancer Project
• East Coast Wildflowers: Florals that could not be sold due to condition were mulched for use on the East Coast Wildflowers farm
We thank East Coast Wildflowers, Rizer & the Floral Team for their commitment to creating a beautiful show with a low eco footprint. Through investing in environmentally friendly practices now, we are safeguarding a sustainable future for native flora and businesses alike.
We would also like to thank the National Library of Australia, alongside the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, The National Gallery of Victoria and Lawsons for permission to utilise ten of Ellis Rowan’s artworks as prints within the Spring 2021 Ready-To-Wear collection.