Prince Charles ‘makes his fashion debut’ at London Fashion Week as designer uses Highgrove NETTLES to make eco-friendly ‘punk’ collection
- Collection created from nettles picked at Prince Charles’ estate showed at LFW
- ‘Very punk stylists’ Vin+Omi collaborated with royal on the eco-friendly fashion
- Prince of Wales met them last year and invited them to Highgrove to pick plants
- ‘Camden punk’ pair called collaborating with Prince of Wales, 71, ‘quite surreal’
The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall have both previously appeared in the coveted front row at London Fashion Week.
And last night Prince Charles was there, too, in spirit.
Models wearing dresses made from nettles harvested from Highgrove, his country estate, were seen walking down the catwalk at the Savoy Hotel.
The eco-friendly attire at the show by ‘very punk stylists’ and fashion pioneers Vin + Omi – who have dressed Michelle Obama, Debbie Harry and Kate Moss – stems from an unexpected collaboration with future king, who is passionate about finding sustainable ways to produce clothes.
Prince Charles, 71, invited the punk stylists to Highgrove after meeting them last year and discussing sustainable fashion
Vin+Omi’s collection, which featured dresses made from nettles harvested at Prince Charles’s Highgrove estate, showed last night as part of London Fashion Week
The designer duo met Charles at an event last year and the conversation quickly turned to horticulture and more environmentally-conscious forms of production in a notoriously wasteful field.
British-born Vin, who goes only by his first name, told the prince that they were looking at ‘nettles, cow parsley and horseradish’ as alternatives to man-made fibres.
Charles interjected: ‘I’ve got a lot of nettles in Highgrove, why don’t you come and get them?’
The collaboration, which saw more than 3,000 nettles hand-picked from the gardens and processed, has resulted in a string of stylish garments including an elegant beige coat which would not look out of place on his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Models walked the catwalk wearing dresses made from a sustainable material made from Highgrove nettles at the Savoy Hotel last night
Those walking the runway in the nettle dresses wore funky headpieces and decadent face paint
The fabric is a fluffy, very fine, wool-type fibre, almost like Alpaca fleece, and has been made using a process that has been around since Roman times.
Debs Goodenough, the prince’s knowledgeable head gardener in Gloucestershire, told Mail Online yesterday that the designers and a team of students from Oxford Brookes University came over to Highgrove in June to pick the nettles – driving away with two van loads.
‘The designers had done something with recycled plastics last year, so His Royal Highness said ‘why don’t you come in and do something with my nettles?’
‘I met them in the New Year. They are such a great couple of guys, really cool and innovative and delightful and enthusiastic. It was a delight to work with them,’ she said.
Vin+Omi created the collection having been invited by Prince Charles to pick nettles from his Highgrove estate
‘Normally with nettles we don’t let them go to seed but just keep them under control as they are good habitat. But we have a lot! There is no shortage here.
‘We had to let them grow just tall enough as it isn’t the leaves they need for the fibre, but the stems.
‘I don’t know how many stems they took but they took two van loads and stripped off the leaves before they went.
‘They didn’t want to come back too many times because they were concerned with their carbon footprint.
The designers admitted they’d initially been stunned that Prince Charles had invited them, as they are ‘not very establishment’
‘At the same time we also looked at various other things we had that they might like to use to go with the fabric.
‘They took away some bags we were going to use for recycling, a lot of willow and hazel we had cut down, which they were really excited with, and some old chicken wire that we had reused so many times that we couldn’t use it any more.
‘They just said ‘oooh, we’ll take it!’. They were talking about jewellery and bags and all sorts.
‘Centuries ago we did use nettle fibre for fabric, so we are coming full circle. I’ve seen images of the fabric and it looks beautiful and silky.
The designers also displayed menswear at London Fashion Week, with models walking down a runway scattered with torn material
‘We are passionate about reusing things all the time but this is a very exciting new collaboration for us.’
Co-designer Omi said Charles’s green ethos was ‘mind-blowing’.
‘You wouldn’t think that someone like the future king of England would (think) about that,’ he said,
The designers called Prince Charles’s green ethos ‘mind-blowing’ after being invited to Highgrove to pick the nettles
The designers have developed a technique to recover the fibres from each nettle stalk, which are then bleached with natural products.
Vin said they were continuing to work with Ms Goodenough to see what other elements of the organic gardens – including discarded items such as sacks and flower pots – could be creatively recycled.
He said reclaimed wood from the grounds had already been turned into jewellery.
The Queen has attended runway shows at London Fashion Week in the past. She joined Anna Wintour in 2018 before presenting the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design
The V&A, London’s museum of art and design, plans to acquire some of the clothes for its permanent collection on sustainable fashion.
Omi added of the project: ‘It was quite surreal. We are not establishment at all. Our look is 1980s Camden punk. I mean, it’s not like we are Gucci or someone like that.’
According to Vin and Omi, Prince Charles has continued to be ‘very appreciative’ of the project and regularly sends letters of encouragement.
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