Creating innovative couture in a sustainable manner

Deborah Milner worked with Gainsborough alongside ao textiles on her latest collection under her new label launched this year.

Deborah Milner Studio

Deborah Milner is an established couturedesigner who is a pioneer of sustainable design. In 2005, Deborah launched the groundbreaking Ecoture™ collection laying the foundation for the sustainable ethos behind her business. From 2007 to 2015, Deborah worked as a consultant for Alexander McQueen realising some of his most complex showpieces and running the bespoke McQueen Couture Studio. In 2016, Deborah re-established her Couture label from her Studio in Central London, and this month saw the opening of Deborah’s first collection under her new label.

AO textiles

AO textiles is a project-based design consultancy, specialising in the development of sustainable textiles. Karen, Penny and Emma founded AO textiles in 2006 while collaborating on the Ecoture™ collection with Deborah. One of the core principles of AO pioneers the use of plant dyes for colour in the 21st century to create high quality vibrant textiles.

The collection takes inspiration from the shapes, forms and colours of the dead reef and will gradually evolve into the vibrancy of living coral, with lighting by Moritz Waldemeyer and crystal by Swarovski. Deborah Milner worked with Gainsborough, AO textiles and other skilled craftspeople to push the boundaries of established techniques for couture, whilst safeguarding the artforms.

Deborah developed a bespoke, naturally-dyed taffeta and a unique reef-inspired jacquard, illustrating that beautiful colours and luxurious
finishes are achievable in a sustainable manner. The weft threads used in both the taffeta and jacquard were dyed with plant-based dyes by AO in Gainsborough’s dye house.

At Gainsborough, we value and understand sustainability and extend it to our practice by using unbleached fibres and recycling residual heat to dry our yarns naturally. As innovators in sustainability, AO textiles used our dye house facilities to create a beautiful, muted grey, extracted from logwood – a first for the use of natural dyes at a high end commercial level.

The project was a very special collaboration between AO, Gainsborough, and Deborah and we are incredibly excited to have worked on this project with them to promote a sustainable future for the textiles industry.

Acknowledgements:

  • Deborah Milner Studio – Deborah Milner, Karen Walsh, Chloe Curry
  • AO textiles – Karen Spurgin, Penny Walsh and Emma D’Arcey

Anemone Dress

Materials: Beading, jacquard and silk crepe.

Technique: This dress incorporates jacquard weave fabric, developed by AO textiles, together with Gainsborough, and silk crepe from Henry Bertrand. The lining is peace silk, satin backed crepe, dyed with logwood.

Waterline Dress (third left)

Material: Taffeta and embroidered organza and Peace Silk lining.

Technique: The taffeta for this piece was woven by Gainsborough, with the weft thread dyed with natural dyes. The organza material was dyed with natural logwood dye by Penny Walsh, and embroidered with threads which showcase some of the most beautiful colours achievable using natural dyes. The embroidery was developed by Fromental together with a traditional family business in China, and is the same on both sides, introducing a unique technique.

Kinetic Suit

Materials: Jacquard and Peace Silk lining.

Technique: This suit incorporates a jacquard weave fabric, developed and dyed by Penny Walsh and Karen Spurgin of AO textiles, together with Gainsborough. Only natural dyes are used, generated from plants and logwood. The weft is dyed with natural plant dyes and the warp thread is undyed. The lining is peace silk, satin backed crepe, dyed with logwood.

Reef Dress

Materials: Jacquard

Technique: This dress incorporates a jacquard weave fabric, developed and dyed by Penny Walsh and Karen Spurgin of AO textiles, together with Gainsborough. Only natural dyes are used, generated from plants and logwood. The weft is dyed with natural plant dyes and the warp thread is undyed. The lining is peace silk, satin backed crepe, dyed with logwood.