Monday, January 24, 2011

Elizabeth St John


I recently attended an event for another area titleholder.  She showed us her fabulous gown, which was custom designed and made for her by a local designer. The low-back of the gown was very dramatic, while the conservative front kept the gown elegant and the oversized sequins, or “palettes”, which completely covered it, ensured that it would catch every light.


I had the pleasure of meeting the designer of the gown, Elizabeth St John, a fellow “Terp”! She explained that she specializes in “eco-couture”, meaning that all of the gowns and dresses that she designs and makes are completely made of materials that are sustainable from natural fibers ranging from hand woven silks and sustainable cottons, to PET satin taffeta linings made from recycled plastic bottles. She carefully selects only fabric manufacturers that employ fair-trade labor and uses vegetable dyes for her colored and imported fabrics and embellishments. To ensure that her manufacturing and design is focused on achieving a "ZERO waste" factor, she refashions cuttings and remnants into hand-worked flowers and accents.

All Elizabeth St John dresses are hand cut & hand finished employing local labor, not robots or over-seas sweatshops. Her office & manufacturing spaces extend the "ZERO waste" philosophy as well, minimizing the use of paper by not offering printed catalogues. She hopes to be completely "off-the grid" by the end of 2012, using only solar and wind power for her offices and dress manufacturing.

Her motto is “Refined. Glamorous. Green.” Which she explains in a quote on her website: "I want my collection to be clothes that women will want to wear and know that they're manufactured in a way that is less harmful to the planet should follow as an added bonus. Green should extend beyond the idea of simply recycling or refashioning a garment into something new...all aspects of its creation should be considered. Finally, the cut, fit and construction should all contribute to clothes that are comfortable and timeless - while focusing on beautifying and complimenting their owners.”


Speaking to Elizabeth was truly inspirational because it was clear that she not only pursued her dream of designing and manufacturing dresses, but she combined it with her passion for the environment and continues to work to make a difference, one gown at a time. With passion and drive as strong as Elizabeth’s, I am sure we will be hearing more about her, who knows, maybe we’ll see her competing on the Mrs. International stage one day, in one of her very own “green” gowns, of course!


Juliana McKee

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