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Couture Designer Recycles Cashmere Into Art

The most exciting fashion aspect of recycling is art. Wearing art as jewelry is common, but not so true when it comes to clothing. It takes a special talent to make stylish clothes from recycled materials, — an artistic talent.

Hence, I am honored to introduce you to Thai designer Nunthirat “Koi” Suwannagate, who approaches her work through the prism of art. Each piece she designs is a completely unique, one-of-a-kind handmade garment, and reflects her own personal vision.

Koi has a thing for vintage cashmere and incorporates the recycled material into her collections. Her signature style is to hand-sculpt the cashmere into fabulous rosette appliques. She also designs with organic cotton and silk. The combination is a richness and superior softness that Koi says is the epitome of luxury and pure indulgence.

Koi’s talent to enhance and beautify the natural contours of the female body are obvious, but less emphasized in the press. I think it’s because each admirer is hypnotized over the construction details, and speak less of the drape that allows fluid movement and ultimate comfort. Yet the press is dishing loads of favorable reviews from the pages of W and WWD, Vogue, Bazaar, and much more.

Of course the press loves to connect fashion with Hollywood. No problem as Koi attracts such feminine beauties as Gretchen Moi, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Demi Moore.

Koi collaborated with Phillip Lim by incorporating her beautiful hand-sculpted rose designs in 3.1 Phillip Lim’s summer 2007 collection. Most recently the CFDA and Vogue acknowledged the designer’s talent with the nomination as finalists for the 2007 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award.

Koi’s Fall 2008 collection is now in stores. Pictured are (1) Kariba cashmere dress, (2) Nubia cashmere vest with flower pin, and (3) Blanca jigsaw cardigan. Photo credit is Stephen Shadrach.

This year’s collection is a rich color palette, including subtle tones and earthy hues. The result is more than fashion, and more than clothing. Each garment is a timeless collectible that can be worn with confidence and joy for years to come. Utilizing the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, — Koi’s growing fame and pride is well deserved.

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Written by Delia Montgomery

I am Delia, d/b/a Chic Eco on, and established myself as an eco fashion guru by learning "who makes what in the world of environmental fashion and design."

Enjoy reading some of my freelance writing about environmental design, fashion and art -- from both consumer and supplier perspectives. You may notice I focus most on individual eco designers, movers and shakers.

From sustainable fashion apparel to paint and flooring, discoveries are a rush. I get my kicks this way. I also offer sales representation of earth-friendly designed products for wholesale buyers. Retailers may take advantage of my services with factory-direct pricing. Spend less time sourcing and prevent green-washed purchases!

My other forte is connecting suppliers with business-to-business tools. Aspects of my business vary with consulting services while I'm proud to be the aide that embraces unique and innovative gigs.

I'm originally a Kentucky Blue Grass gal who relocated to Maui early 2006 and the tropical Puna District of Big Island, Hawaii late 2007. Walk the talk is my motto here.

Early 2009 I constructed a yurt home office in a semi-urban setting on a tiny lot. My water comes from the sky, contained in a catchment that's not likely to dry in this rain forest. The electric is designed for solar conversion. I grow about 30% of my food organically, compost, and recycle to the hilt. Permaculture with a full eco system is my gardening style.

In fact, gardening is my ultimate joy. I seek gigs like design, weeding and planting between other jobs. My love is Hawai'i which has more climate zones than any state. There are frequent earthquakes here, typically under a 3.0 magnitude, and I happen to dig the vibrations. It's a wonderful simple life in paradise. As I grow older and wiser, I become more and more grateful.

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