One can wear stilettoes and still be eco-conscious, says supermodel Angela Lindvall.Being a high-fashion icon has never shaken supermodel Angela Lindvall from her earthy roots.
An environmentalist, vegetarian and mother of two, she has strutted the works of top designers down the runway, adorned the covers of Elle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and is one of the world’s most recognizable faces.
Her intimate involvement with the world of luxury and fashion has not stopped her from being an ardent eco-conscious person.
Seated under the shade of an olive tree in a rustic grove in southern France during the launch of DKNY’s fresh new fragrance PureDKNY Verbena, she said: “Much of society still has a tendency to associate the word ‘sustainability’ with hippie stereotypes, but you can wear stilettoes and still be eco-conscious.”
She isn’t just talking as the face of DKNY’s new perfume; she is also the global spokesperson for its sustainable fragrance line, which is a culmination of her journey as a green advocate.
Lindvall, 32, grew up in Lee’s Summit in Missouri, the United States, where life always seemed perfectly in harmony with nature.
It wasn’t until she moved away from her idyllic utopia that the then fresh-faced 17-year-old, amidst the chaos and lights of New York city, began both her modelling career and learning about being eco-activist.
“A friend started telling me things and I started researching what was on the labels, and wow! I was blown away!” she said.
Learning for the first time about the complications arising from development and urban sprawl led to the outset of what she now describes as “environmental anxiety”.
“We are at the brink of some major changes in the planet – populations are growing, oil prices are really high, we’re talking about major socio-economic and ecological issues here.”
She channels this anxiety constructively and founded an organization called the Collage Foundation, which promotes sustainable and environmentally-conscious choices among young people.
It supports, among others, a community coalition that facilitates sustainable local agriculture in Rockland County, New York, called the Rockland Farm Alliance.
As her career catapulted her into the limelight however, she began to realize it was much more useful to use her popular leverage as a model and personality to be a spokesperson for the things she believes in.
Although the green aspirations of Lindvall don’t necessarily reflect those of the industry she thrives in, what she wants is for designers and others in the industry to realize nothing is stopping them from sharing them.
“There is a complete disconnect between the designer and manufacturing,” she said, having spent over 15 years in the industry.
“They (the designers) don’t even deal with it themselves, they just get the end product and may not even be aware of the (greener) alternatives.”
However, things are changing in the world of luxury and fashion.
“My friend Summer Rayne Oaks (a widely acclaimed model-cum-sustainable fashion guru) has spent the last two years developing a site called Source4Style.
It’s important not just to get consumers to go green, but also educate and raise awareness within the industry on how to produce green products.“She has a whole array of fibres that designers can choose from, so she’s providing that tool, whilst the Natural Resource Defense Council’s (a US-based environmental action group) Clean By Design initiatives will help reduce pollution from the manufacturing side,” added Lindvall.
She also sits on the Clean By Design advisory board, and hopes to create a bridge between these existing platforms and designers, which is where her celebrity model status starts to pay off.
As the new host and one of the judges for this season’s popular TV show Project Runway Allstars which premiered last month, she plans to create eco challenges for the top designers, which will educate them on the manufacturing process and use of sustainably sourced fibres.
For her, it’s important not just to get consumers to go green, but also educate and raise awareness within the industry on how to produce green products.
Once that choice exists, consumers will be able to vote intelligently, investing in companies that perform the green practices they wish to support.
“If consumers say, ‘this is what I want’, everyone’s going to be forced to do it,” said Lindvall.
As for the industry’s penchant for throwaway fashion, being unique is far more fashionable than following a monthly trend, she said.
“Take what already exists in your wardrobe, or in vintage stores, or invest in a product that’s really good. Spend more money on one thing instead of throwing away 10 things.
“We don’t have to compromise on luxury or aesthetics to do things in a environmentally responsible manner,” she concluded.