Tending the Earth, gardening fashion

Tending the Earth, gardening fashion

Tending the Earth, gardening fashion
Material and design sampling in tune with seasonal landscape outside Mila’s studio. Photography: Mila Burcikova

What would fashion look like if it developed alongside natural seasons rather than the market driven fashion calendar? Natural seasons are cyclical, they include periods of excited anticipation that precede seed germination and budding, followed by months of intense activity and sheer abundance. But they also include quieter times with less resources, devoted to rest and careful preparation for the next growing season. In contrast to this, the seasons of the fashion calendar are linear. Although they seemingly emulate natural cycles, their pattern is driven by unceasing growth and renewal with no time to pause or reflect. The drive for change is incessant, constantly feeding the appetite for more.

As part of my three-year research project Life in Clothes, I have been working on an almanac that maps the cycle of a year through the seasons of garden and fashion making. The Almanac is a work in progress, it is a continuous process of capturing the flow of natural seasons in my garden and my fashion studio attached to it.

left - image of a studio desk with mannequin in the distance, right image - close up of beetroot plant
Background research of local flora and seasonal garden plants for natural colour and dye sampling. Photography: Mila Burcikova

“It is a conversation between gardening and fashion, a learning journey on how working with the rhythm of natural seasons throughout the year can inform and reframe the process of fashion making. It is an exploration that probes how priorities may be shifted when fashion making is truly grounded in connection to nature and a rural space.”

The process of creating the almanac presents a whole new paradigm for fashion, a conscious choice of a lifestyle that is better attuned to the rhythms of seasons, as well as to our own creative cycles and wellbeing needs.

left image - close up of a mustard yellow garment, right image - close up of a pink flower
Design sampling in tune with seasonal garden flowers. Photography: Mila Burcikova

Working the land that surrounds our home and studios has taught me that one needs to be constantly giving rather than just taking from the soil and landscape. Taking only goes so far in nature, harvesting both pleasure and food from the garden is a constant dance of give and take. It is a flow of generosity that is sometimes abundantly granted, or in turn demanded, as the year unfolds. The rhythm of this work requires humility, patience and a change of pace that is grounded in seasonal cycles rather than socially imposed clock times and achievement targets.

left - close up of interweaving branches, right - close up of a plant
Taking the time to observe the beauty of dormant gardens. Photography: Mila Burcikova

Gardening is a constant work in progress. It changes all the time, day to day, season to season. Garden work at this time of year feels like an opportunity to rethink and recommence. It is like being given a chance to correct mistakes and failures of the previous year and have another go at unfinished plans. Winter grants a generous pause. Yet, a few warm days in February can renew a sense of urgency, revealing the buds of plants that are impatient to open up to the next season.

left - photo of a yellow garment, right - photo of a large tree
Colour, shape, and feel of a late winter morning. Photography: Mila Burcikova

“Gardening truly teaches you to look properly and to look every day. It allows you to observe the beginning of something new, yet reassuringly familiar at the same time.”

We will be sharing updates on the progress of ‘Life in Clothes Almanac: The seasons of garden and fashion making’ in quarterly instalments, so please watch this space. Most importantly though, on this Earth Day and beyond, we want to encourage everyone to take the time to watch the green spaces around them – whether it’s a window box, the planting along the daily commute, a tree in a local park or the landscape that unfolds as we venture out of the city for a weekend getaway.

left - close up of white linen fabric, right - a single plant sprout
Colour and texture sampling in tune with dormant gardens and landscapes. Photography: Mila Burcikova

Noticing what grows around us is a simple and extremely rewarding way of overcoming the Earth-blindness that is so easy to slip into as we go about the everyday. It can also be the first step to finding our own ways of becoming better guardians of the Earth.

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