Bridal gowns go green in hopes of a happily ever after

Here comes the bride, all dressed in ... biodegradable polyvinyl alcohol. Sound romantic? It does to the environmentally-conscious students and British researchers at Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, UK. But don't shed tears saying goodbye to the old-fashioned gowns of yore ... no, really, don't. See, the new dresses dissolve in water. So, that adage about rain on a wedding day bringing good luck might have to be reconsidered.

The fairytale gown, an iconic symbol of love and happily-ever-after was chosen for an overhaul by the fashion and engineering students at Sheffield Hallam as an example of something, usually worn once, to send a message about our increasingly disposable consumer culture.

According to the university, textiles have become the fastest-growing waste product in the U.K., thanks to the falling prices of inexpensive clothing. Yesterday's throwaway fads are now estimated to contribute1,480,000 tons of textiles to the U.K. landfills annually. Hoping to shed light on the effects of an alarming cultural trend, the students at Sheffield Hallam engaged in an unlikely union to create an exhibit of traditional, frothy white gowns using nontraditional materials and styling entitled, A Sustainable Marriage.

"In order to reduce fashion's impact on the environment, the fashion industry must begin to challenge conventional attitudes and practices. The exhibition demonstrates what could be possible when design and scientific innovation combine forces," said Jane Blohm, a lecturer on fashion design at Sheffield Hallam. Sort of gives a whole new meaning to Glamour "Don'ts."

In addition to using fabric knitted with polyvinyl alcohol, which dissolves in water without harming the environment, the experimental gowns are also designed to transform into five different dresses after the formal "I do's." Keep the umbrella handy. Personally, I find this part even more ground-breaking since designers have been trying to create reusable bridesmaids gowns for decades, achieving only mediocre results. "Look, you'll be able to wear it again!" Yeah, right.

But their hearts are in the right place. Although most bridal gowns spend the rest of their days clogging closets, not landfills (costing owners upwards of $200 to preserve for posterity), it is an unfashionable fate that awaits the rest of our worn out wardrobe.

As for wedding dresses, although they usually sashay down the aisle only briefly, one could argue they live forever in photos. If they are lucky enough to possess a timeless quality, they can also be passed down to future generations, borrowed, or perhaps, as in the case of one particularly unsentimental friend, used to wash the car. For the generous of spirit and a possible tax deduction, it could also be donated.

Dissolving dress, or no, making a vow to go green is a step in the right direction, in sickness and in health, til death do us part. After all, it's really the marriage that has to hold up in hot water.






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