by Camilla Ridley
How spending time with nature and gardening might hold the secret to the emergence of a new harmonious style of fashion and our improved collective wellbeing
I've always found immersing myself in nature and gardening a great way to relax and an antidote to the fast pace of our interconnected modern lives. I'm wearing one of our new Ridley London printed floral cotton Alicia tops. And Becky Gunning @bricksandstitches is shown here enjoying her garden in a Ridley London
I hope you are all keeping well, staying safe and managing to get outside and enjoy some of the wonderful spring weather we’ve been having. This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week, and with forecasts looking sunny all week, this is the perfect time to spend outside, responsibly re-connecting with the natural world. If like me, spring is also your favorite time of year, I’m sure you will have noticed how beautiful everything is looking. I have always found nature incredibly up-lifting. Everywhere is a restful, luscious green, and flowers are starting to pop. Whatever the dilemma, things somehow always feel better after a good walk. And no more so than at this time of year. Whether it’s topping up our vitamin D levels or offering a greater sense of perspective, nature's ability to heal and improve wellbeing has been widely proven.
The third week of May is also the start of the summer season and one of my highlights, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. One of the great celebrations of nature and something I’ve been looking forward to all year. Disappointingly like so many events this summer, the show has been canceled due to Coronavirus. And while nothing quite comes close to actually being there, the RHS and BBC have teamed up to transform the world’s greatest flower show into an entertaining digital experience. It promises lots of exclusive content and programming including behind the scenes tours of award-winning nurseries, demonstrations and activities for kids. All with a strong focus on health and wellbeing. I’ll definitely be tuning in and the listings are available on The RHS Website.
(Top) a spectrum of some of our beautiful new Liberty print floral silks which are all produced sustainably and transformed into dresses in London. (Bottom left) Ridley London's very own Lucy Peasley catching up with Gardening guru Monty Don at Chelsea Flower Show last year. Lucy is wearing a printed floral silk Virginia midi dress in apricot Josephine chiffon. (And right) Kat Farmer @doesmybumlook40 is also shown here enjoying last year's Chelsea Flower Show in her bespoke Martha silk maxi dress
I’d also recommend watching Monty Don’s excellent Around the World in 80 Gardens which is incredibly inspiring and available on BBC I-player. Finally, to get you fully harmonised with nature, you really must see the brilliant award-winning documentary The Biggest Little Farm which is available to rent on a host of platforms including apple and amazon. It’s an incredibly inspiring and uplifting story of two city dwellers turned farmers and shares a blueprint for saving our environment with a more balanced and fulfilling life. We absolutely loved it.
As a keen gardener, I love nothing more than spending time outside. And it’s not just about creating a beautifully designed outdoor space to enjoy. There’s something incredibly rewarding about working in harmony with the natural environment and seeing plants you’ve nurtured from tiny seeds grow and flourish. I also find that the slower rhythm of the natural cycle is a great antidote to the endless stream of e-mails and social media demands of our interconnected lives. And there’s also a greater sense of satisfaction of positively contributing to your local ecosystem and the wider environment.
(Top) influencer @belsfashionedit is pictured here in her garden earlier today preparing to enjoy the virtual Chelsea Flower wearing her new printed floral silk Sophie midi dress. (Top Right) Nature has always directly inspired our collections at Ridley London. I'm wearing a Manto Martha midi dress shown here in the amazing yellow Jannah floral crepe silk Liberty print which captures the fantastic colours and flora of spring. (Finally bottom) Elle magazine's UK Editor Farrah Storr is a big fan of gardening and is keen to champion a new more sustainable and harmonious style of fashion.
As a fashion designer, I’ve always tried to celebrate and work in harmony with nature and this has certainly been one of the big driving forces behind Ridley London. Whether it’s the beautiful floral Liberty print silks we use which are sustainably produced to last or championing a localised made to order production model that minimises waste and our carbon footprint, I've always believed clothing should do good as well as look good. I've always questioned How can you feel great, if the clothes you are wearing are possibly ethically questionable or environmentally damaging?
So you can imagine how pleased I was to see a number of the most influential names in fashion calling for us to use this period of lockdown for a change in perspectives and practices. None more so than Vogue Editor Anna Wintour:
"We're all in agreement that we need to have more emphasis on sustainability. We needed this terrible event to make us understand that it's not about needing to change, we have to change, we are going to change. I think this is an opportunity for all of us to look at our industry, look at our lives and rethink our values, and to really think about the waste and amount of money and consumption and excess, and I obviously include myself in this, that we indulged in."
Anna Wintour, Editor Vogue
And Elle magazines Editor, Farrah Storr who is also a passionate gardener and advocate of a better, more sustainable style of fashion. With influences like this, I positively believe that we will move away from the disposable culture of the last few decades that has seen fashion become the World's second-biggest polluter. That consumers will start to demand better-made products that last. And industries like fashion will make the right changes to protect our environment while still enabling us all to enjoy and express ourselves with greater freedom. In short, things can be better. We all just need to slow down a little and take some time to reconnect with nature and enjoy and be inspired by the beautiful natural world around us.