"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." — Coco Chanel

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Upon arriving at the runway show capping off Seattle’s Green Fashion Week, the first thing I noticed was the green carpet. Then the scaffolding and spotlights. And the runway backlit with green bulbs and surrounded by rows of white chairs — four of which were ours.

Three glamorous Grist gals and I had come dressed to the nines — which in our case meant the best little black dresses and heels our local thrift stores had to offer. We mingled with the beautiful people, sipping limoni mojitos as we chatted with eco-model and event emcee Summer Rayne Oakes, denim designer Aiden Dinh, and the COO of Earth Pledge, the organization bringing eco-friendly high fashion pieces from the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Diane von Furstenberg.

The show opened with an intro from the organizers and a brief film about global warming. Then, the first outfit: a tie-dyed number from Abi Ferrin. Yes, tie-dyed. At first, I was shocked to see such a hippie cliché at what was supposed to be an event showcasing the hipness of sustainable fashion. But as I studied the silky halter dress, I realized it might be a perfect metaphor for blending the lines between hip and hippie.

feathered skirtAs the show continued, the pieces ranged from the very wearable to the less-so (like a feathered skirt from Lizzie Parker and knitted underwear by Souchi). I was a little disappointed that a few of the Earth Pledge pieces looked a little too obviously eco — as if the designers hadn’t taken the time to think more creatively about how to use the natural-looking hemp/linen fabric. And while I’m all for reusing fabrics, the red-and-white afghan that made its way down the runway masquerading as a dress … well, can’t say I’m a fan.

On the whole, though, it was exciting to see so many different styles and fabrics on the runway — all created with sustainability in mind. Not being a frequent fashion-show attendee, I was surprised to hear from Summer that this event was about five times longer than usual — perhaps a sign that there’s enough eco-fashion out there to fuel more than one green fashion week a year?

Curious to hear what the models thought about the experience, I caught up with several of them after the show, and they seemed to share the sentiment that neither comfort nor style was sacrificed in the quest for fashion with a conscience.

"I enjoyed [the clothing], and I wouldn’t have known that it was made out of anything different," said Seattle model Marshay Mitchell. "It felt natural." (As it should, I suppose.) Unfortunately, Mitchell and the other models didn’t actually know what their garments were made out of — a brief backgrounder on the fabrics or processes used in making each outfit would have been educational for both the models and the audience.

As the after-party began to wind to a close, we Grist gals made our way to the coat check excited to collect our gift bags (filled with goodies of questionable eco-value, but gift bags nonetheless). The evening was a success by all accounts — Summer went so far as to say it was one of the most well put together eco-fashion events she’s attended (quite the compliment from the world’s first eco-model).

For me, it was both exhilarating to live the glam side of green for a night and inspiring to see such a wide range of eco-fashion out there — albeit far from my closet.

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"The models have to be tall so you can see them on the runway [above the spiky coif of the person in front of you]." — Sarah Kraybill Burkhalter