In this photograph, High Fashion, Runway, Print, Fitness, and Commercial Model Vigilant Sutherlin wears a chiffon skirt that features a medallion created by my photographer brother, Ken Fowkes. He designed the art in photoshoot using a single dried oak leaf, so I call this photograph 'Turning Over a New leaf'. This photograph was shot by street fashion photographer Sean Sato, in his Leandro Studio 1764. The medallion is also highlighted on the backdrop behind her.


Vigilant @vigilantsutherlin will model for me again in June, joined by fashion, editorial, runway model and actress @withlovefrom jack. Both will wear swimsuits inspired by AI generated birds, so lots of color and fabulous feather designs. Vivid Shot photographer, Ash Ahuja will be a part of our team for this shoot. We still have not selected someone to do help with MUAH in exchange for prints, so if you are interested please PM me!




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Snappy Ol' Gal by Ken Fowkes Photography

My brother Ken Fowkes is an amateur photographer. We have one of his photos, an ancient oak from the Russian Ridge Ancient Oak Forest between our house and the ocean, above our couch in the living room. That room has a 12 foot ceiling, and a huge 4X5 foot window up high that frames an oak tree out front. Ken's photo compliments that view and brings an even more beautiful oak tree into our living space. 


I am smitten with another one of Ken''s photos, his "Snappy Ol' Gal" sunflower. We have a family wedding to attend this August in Massachusetts, sew I decided to create an ensemble with this photo. Now I get to be my version of that snappy ol' gal during the wedding festivities!


This Slow Fashion ensemble promotes SLOW FASHION in a number of ways. One, it's zero waste. The fabric left over from the top will be repurposed into a bathing suit. Two, the hat was created from a couple of linen upholstery samples that were rescued from landfill. And three, I am much more likely to keep this garment for the rest of my life, because it has personal meaning for me.


Keeping fabric and fashion out of landfill is critical in protecting our planet. FAST FASHION, as the planet's 2nd biggest polluting industries in the world today, produces an alarming amount of waste. If any of you can take the reigns of fashion into your own hands, and slow your consumption and waste down, the planet will be better off.


Please consider boycotting fast fashion companies that, while offering you cheap clothing, do so at the expense of child labor, unsustainable hourly wages, and working conditions that are unsafe and unhealthy. The stories of this modern day slavery industry are well documented and easy to find.


You can look even better if you embrace your own style rather than purchasing cheap fashion from a fast fashion company. Cheap fashion today is not only harming our planet, the fact that it is mass produced also means it is not YOU!






Zo Magazine Awards First Place to Slow Fashion Designer

Zo Magazine, an artistic community featuring 'A different kind of universe,' recently held their annual photo contest, this year titled TOUCH OF BLUE EXPO, The selfie photo I submitted won first place in the fashion category!


The suit in this photo was custom designed and sewn, and  features a whimsical visor, also self made. The steampunk sunglasses adds to the comical composition, which inspired the title of the photo, "Resort Wear for the Blue Lagoon". 


Of course my website features Slow (Sustainable) Fashion, as this is my personal focus today, and has been for over a decade, and one that I have practiced most of my life. I don't believe I have purchased a 'new' item of clothing in over eight years, and can boast that my wardrobe features the best fashion I have ever owned.


I would like to think that my entire wardrobe represents 'a different kind of universe', one that has for the most part been designed entirely by me, using discarded fashion and accessories, and fabric samples that would have otherwise gone into landfill. Borrowed from an old jargon in high tech, I am not only 'eating my own dog food', but my different kind of universe means that I am always dressed uniquely as me, and will never look like the rest of the fast fashion shoppers of the world. 


And for that I am extremely proud. 


I want to show the fashionistas of this world that they can practice Slow Fashion AND look stylish. You don't have to know how to sew or design. You can shop sustainably, and buy used. You can also swap with friends and family. 


But most importantly, you can be proud to do your little part in our precious world to limit the unprecedented waste that fast fashion has introduced into our environment.




Put on Your Boxing Gloves and Join the Crusade!

In my almost seven decades on this planet, I have seen the fashion industry explode from one of the more expensive line items in a family's budget, to a cheap runaway commodity that is out of control. The damage to the planet and population serving the needs of this industry are becoming more and more transparent every day, and yet as consumers, we continue to buy and throw away clothes at an alarming rate. Because our pocket books are fuelling this disaster, it is our duty to withhold spending money on fast fashion as a matter of protest.


While we are learning more and more about this disastrous industry, it does not seem to be changing our behaviours. We continue to indulge in this fashion 'addiction'; buying cheap clothes, and tossing them. How do we change our behaviours when the destruction of the industry is over there, rather than here. How do we stop buying clothes when they are so cheap, and shopping is fun! Doesn't it help third world countries that are making our clothes put food on their tables and afford roofs over their heads if we buy fast fashion?

I think we really need to ask ourselves what we need and why do we need it. We all want to look our best, just as we want to eat healthy foods and keep our bodies in shape. But learning to regulate consumption in our diets is just as important as learning to curtail spending on our clothes.

Labour is cheap and human rights a low priority in third world countries where fast fashion is manufactured. The factories producing these clothes are not regulated or inspected, so standards are non existent, and working conditions often unsafe. The well established corporations contracting for these goods are not responsible for the conditions of these workplaces; building owners are not regulated; no one is financially responsible for the devastation that this industry produces.


Fast fashion boils down to cheap fashion, which is one of the keys to understanding this industry's problem. We are not paying the people who make our clothes a living wage. The money we spend on fast fashion is not financing a healthy industry. Employees are at risk, buildings are collapsing, pollution is widespread with no end in sight. None of the money we spend on fast fashion is paying to solve any of these problems.

For fashion to be healthy, the cost of your clothing has to have enough overhead built in to be redirected into improvements. The money you currently spend on inexpensive clothing will have to increase to account for these changes. The cost of fashion will have to cover reversing pollution and improving the infrastructure. So just as fashion used to be one of the more expensive line items in a family's budget, for this industry to repair itself, it will have to become that way again.


As a circular fashion economy begins to explore and experiment with fast fashion alternatives, new cost structures are emerging that are both effective and fashionable. While some of them may go by the wayside, and others catch on like wildfire, my personal believe is that reuse is at the core of fashion health. Reusing keeps clothing out of landfill. None of the pollution that resulted in producing that original garment will be repeated. Business models such as trading or renting clothing provides the freshness of 'new' that consumers expect.


Reusing also buys us time. As we learn to shop responsibly, and keep the clothing that we have rather than replacing it, we are slowing down the fast fashion engine. And while reuse does not immediately invest in a healthy industry, it does allow us to step on the brakes while we reflect and build on more sustainable practices.


Fashion boils down to a simple common denominator: we all want to look good to ourselves and others. The growth of the personal health and fitness industry is an excellent example of this. According to PolicyAdvice, this industry is growing at 8.7% year over year. Personal Trainers, a career that did not exist until the late 1900s, now brings in an average salary of $40,000/year.

So when are we going to apply our interest in health and fitness to style and fashion? When are we going to slow down and spend the same amount of time that we spend at the gym on our personal wardrobes? When do we adorn our beautiful bodies with environmentally healthy and personally flattering clothing?


My fashion advice is to invest in a stylist, friend or professional, who can help you understand and define your personal style. Take them shopping with you, and/or invite them into your wardrobe to help you evaluate what your best styles and colours are. This will go a long way toward helping you make fashion purchases in the future that will not end up in the recycle bin. This is how to use your wallet wisely, because frankly, you are worth it! And so is the environment.


Photographer Sam Breach

Model Kerry French

Designer Darcy Fowkes and Margot Silk Forrest


50 Shades of Grey

I've joined a number of Facebook groups that revolve around supporting women transitioning to their natural gray hair. Most of the members of these groups post selfies of themselves with both full heads of their natural colors, as well as slender roots of their gray at the beginning of their transition. Some are more confident than others, but the main theme of all of these groups is to foster support for the process, and share the beauty of the end results.


Some stories chronicle  loved ones reacting poorly to some of this transitioning. 'Why are you letting yourself go', or 'you look so much older with gray hair.' One member reported a misbehaved brother joining a holiday family reunion yelling out to the entire family "Dye Your Hair!!!!'


We all have color pallets that we incorporate into our lives, from the clothing on our bodies, the walls of our homes, to the towels in our bathrooms. These pallets are chosen for a variety of reasons.

  • We pick colors we won't grow tired of.
  • We dress in colors that compliment our hair and eyes.
  • We might need an accent color to stand out in a crowd.
  • A conservative color would be a better choice for an interviewing, and
  • My hair will be much healthier without chemical dyes. 

Color choices are personal, and only the business of the person choosing these colors. By way of example, would your mother-in-law criticize a color you used to paint a wall in your bedroom? I certainly hope not. And if she had, I hardly think anyone would go out and buy a different color of paint to redo that wall! So if a friend or colleague told you that your choice of hair color made you look old, would you change what you were doing? I also hope not. As I heard from one member of one of my SILVER HAIR FB Groups, 'God is the best stylist on the planet'. I couldn't agree more, she is terrific!!!




Simple Bear Necessities


‘Identical Twins’ Model Sustainability with Thrift and Repurposed Fashion Ensembles

Designer Darcy Fowkes dresses identical 'twin' models in the same garments coupled with different tops and accessories  to illustrate how extensible a few core garments can be. In this photo above, Darcy couples a repurposed pashmina scarf with baggy hammer pants (made from damaged linen yardage) as her core ensemble. 


Both outfits are coordinated with different tops, hats, and belts. The outfit on the left picks up the blue in the vest, for a more spring/summer look. This outfit's cloche style hat is trimmed with a thrifted men’s silk tie that also picks up the detailed pattern on the vest.


The outfit on the right supports the brown colorway in the ensemble and a longer sleeved top for a more fall/winter look. Fish leather belts in blue and brown add detail at the waist for final accessory touches.

In this photo both models are wearing home sewn tie-dyed jersey capris coupled with two different tops and headwear. The oversized green linen top on the left is accessorized with a green snood scarf, repurposed from a t-shirt. The thrifted orange tank top on the right is accessorized with a hemp linen cap designed from seasonally discarded upholstery samples. 


Again, the outfit on the left features fall colors and styles, while the one on the right is clearly a summer ensemble, complete with bare feet! Just by adding these two tops and their corresponding head wear to this one pair of pants, these capris can now be worn from summer to fall.

In this photograph Darcy dresses the twins in a pair of repurposed capris cut from a thrifted pair of bell bottoms. Darcy tops the outfit on the left with a gifted, altered top, and a matching cap and neck scarf designed from a piece of scrap lace. The model on the right wears a thrifted tissue jersey cap sleeve top with a coordinated thrifted scarf. Sandals are upcycled/painted with Jacquard Lumiere leather paints.


While both outfits are indeed summer attire, they do not look anything alike. Refreshing one pair of pants/capris with different 'looks' helps us keep our clothing out of landfill. 


All three photographs illustrate how extensible any one item of clothing can be when you style them into different looks. This is an effective tool for updating core garments, keeping your wardrobe fashionable fresh all year long. Bottom line: by thrifting and repurposing, you can use extensibility to practice sustainability. 


Photo Credits: Suz McFadden