This week my team and I launch Dress For Our Time, the world's first digital couture dress dedicated to exploring climate change and its human impact at St Pancras International - the gateway to Paris - the city hosting the pivotal United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21. Dress for our Time has been two years in the making and in that time I have brought together collaborators from very different backgrounds, from business, science, technology and fashion to humanitarian work, to explore ways to engender a public debate which uses the power of fashion to see things differently and connect in unprecedented ways.
Given the importance of the conference, where more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, we hope to capture people's imagination in a way that is both unexpected and beautiful. With the scientific community overwhelmingly in agreement that climate warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, Dress For Our Time asks us what we can do individually and collectively, and invites us to join the conversation which neither makes us fearful or guilty about the huge challenges that climate change presents us.
The dress will digitally display data which will show the impact of climate change on our physical world. It will show our planet, both as we know it now and as it will be if we DON'T DO ENOUGH. We developed the dress in partnership with the award winning agency Holition and the data has been taken from a study conducted by a team of global scientists and provided by the Met Office. Throughout the two years I have been fortunate to have worked with like-minded people - like the brilliant Michael Saunby of the Met Office - who has a similar vision for a world where the arts and sciences combine for the greater good. The Dress itself is made from a tent (which was no longer in useable condition) gifted to the project by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In giving the tent a second life, it gives the piece an unbreakable bond to humanity and represents the importance of nurturing and protecting all people and safeguarding generations to come. I wanted it to be a powerful symbol of what it means to be human amidst the precarious nature of our existence.
Dress for our Time symbolises the collaborative way that I have worked for over twenty years - breaking down the boundaries between traditional subject areas and using fashion as a catalyst for change. I have always experienced, that it is our collided imaginations that hold the key to some of the world's most complex problems - and being constrained by viewing arts and sciences as totally separate will never get us closer to what our planet requires. Through Dress for Our Time and some of my previous projects, it has become ever clearer the importance of brokering projects which bring together brilliant minds from disparate fields. It is an ease with collective thought, that can lead to the breakthroughs necessary to change our course.
Visitors to St Pancras will be able to ask questions of our future from an entirely new perspective. We will be gathering people's reactions through #Dress4ourTime and #ClimateChange on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER and this will help inform chapter two - which will be announced in early 2016. We want Dress for our Time to help elevate people's voices and share some of the hopes and fears that we all have around the future of our planet. None of us have all the answers - but by using creative ways to discuss the issues which really matter to us and future generations - we can find new ways to explore the evidence and stay in relationship to its truth. Dress for our Time is one step towards a future which belongs to us all.
DRESS FOR OUR TIME will be on display at St Pancras International Station Concourse (next to the Sir John Betjeman statue, Euston Rd, London, N1C 4QP) the gateway to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 21 in Paris from 26 - 29 November. It is supported by London College of Fashion, UAL, Unilever, Holition, Met Office, St Pancras International, UNHCR and HSF.