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The Party Dress, 

A One Hit Wonder

Text: Yoni Moldovan and Joana Kazmaier

Photographer: Joana Kazmaier

The party dress is such a specific item that we tend to break all the rules on sustainability, budget and style. All we need is the vibe of the party. But how can we keep the party going? We look for answers in the world of innovative textiles, patiently made by hand.

With the party dress being a one hit wonder, it’s hard to find a sustainable solution. Velvet, sequins, satin or chiffon are the most popular materials for festive garments but also one of the most polluting ones. Luckily fashion creatives are already looking for innovative textiles to produce clothes that not only last for one dance. Paulina Meyle is one of those fashion creatives. She studies at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute and is participating in the textile minor, a program completely focussing on creating innovative textiles. Paulina explains that it all comes back to the reason why you are making a garment: “Starting to really think about the textile in itself before thinking about the garment it could become, helps me so much to find reasoning in why I’m making clothes. It starts with sourcing the material, where does it come from? How was it produced? And how can I transform it into something beneficial?” Paulina explains that the use of bioplastics can be the future: “Bioplastic isn’t an unknown word to many. But there also aren’t really any garments yet you can buy. It’s advantage of degrading rather quickly is also one of it’s biggest disadvantages, since people want to create things that last.”


Pleather or fungus? 

Sustainability is something that’s on the agenda of fashion students. But are there also companies that could contribute to this shift in use of materials? The Fashion For Good museum in Amsterdam showcases an exposition with companies that came up with new innovative materials. Fancy a leather dress? Then you probably don’t want to harm animals or the planet. With vegan leather being all the rage now, it gets overlooked that it’s still made out of plastic. But, your future leather dress could be made out of mushroom roots. MycoTEX is one of the companies showcased in the museum. They create custom-made clothes out of the fungus that perfectly fits the body. Are you done with the dress after a while or are their bad memories attached to it? No worries, just bury it in the ground. The mushroom-leather dress will decompose in natural environments. 

A little touch of glitter 

Although leather is nice, you will probably picture a shiny garment when thinking of a Party Dress. But what is pleasant for the eye, is deadly for the planet. All the pretty sequins and glitter are made out of plastic. Should we then ignore our desire to buy those glittery Party Dresses? No, there are already people looking in sustainable sources in order to keep on shining. The Fashion For Good museum also discovered a company that creates biodegradable glitter. The shiny purple glitter that’s spread on a table in the museum is made out of eucalyptus trees from sustainable managed forests. Then there’s also Rachel Clowes, a London-based embroidery and print designer, with new possibilities. She has created a new type of sequin that biodegrades at the end of its fashion lifetime. “Plastic sequins shimmer for a few hours on the dancefloor, only to end up in a landfill, lying there for centuries if not more,” says Clowes to Bioplastics News. The bright, shiny bio-sequins are made from water, fruit glycerine, starch, and natural dye and have the rigidity and flexibility of conventional plastic. The ‘bio-sequins’ are designed to sparkle for a few wears and then safely biodegrade. So, don’t be ashamed if you dislike the sequins after a while, they will just dissolve in boiling water. 


Although fast-fashion-dresses will be at the party for a minute, they will eventually lay for a long time in the landfill. But your conscience is clear with the sustainable version of the Party Dress, the real one hit wonder. Which dissolves after we are ready for the next showstopper. We’re patiently waiting for these materials to hit the market!

© 2021 by Garment Magazine. 

Garment Magazine is an independent production made by students of AMFI.

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