In September 2011, Laurel Suffragette was created and conceived as a character coming from the late Victorian age, who had been active in the emancipation of women and the garment industry of her day, who had fought for reforms and safety in the manufacture area. Miss Laurel Green-Fairfashion was curious to see how the future had turned out, so she took a stroll down Robsonstrasse, Vancouver’s fashion district, to see what shoppers had to say regarding eco-fashion. The interventions varied from long one on one conversations, to people ignoring her because they suspected she was selling something, to having her picture taken with babies, to engaging store clerks. The most interesting was Laurel’s conversation about jeans with an attentive American Eagle clerk, which was cordial until she asked if the company checks on their factory conditions at which point the store manager quickly ushered Laurel out.
Nita Bowerman‘s acting skills were perfect for this type of spontaneous street intervention and the fact that Nita -an artist in her own right who has an interest in the fashion industry- brings an extra level of commitment to the intervention. Apart from making the garment, I did a photo shoot outside the Vancouver Art Gallery , assisted by Jessica Beisler before we walked down Robson street. This site has been long been used as a gathering place for protests (most recently site of Occupy Vancouver) and it seemed a perfect location for a suffragette from the past to land in Vancouver. The makeup was by Keith Murray and Michael Sider accompagnied us and videotaped the entire session. This footage will be edited into a Weedrobes video in the near future. It was my intention from the very beginnings of the Weedrobes project to take the outfits to the streets and i look forward to doing more next summer.
The dress was made from Laurel leaves pinned onto a framework made from bamboo seat caning. The mutton sleeves are based on the Keystone Jacket which was popular in the late Victorian age as a pattern for women to make their own clothing. The sleeves were covered with Hydrangeas and Baby’s Breath. The bodice was constructed from the bustier made for the Mobile Garden Dress, with a Jabot made from corn husks. The buttons were made from Cherry Tomatoes from my garden. The outfit was installed in my back yard for a few months and allowed to weather.