Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roadkill Couture

The fur/anti-fur debate has spanned generations and centuries, with vegetarians, animal rights activists, and even celebrities voicing their opinions. People don't like the thought of killing an animal in order to wear its skin and fur, even if they are willing to eat the animal. With the increase in publicity about this debate as well as the influence of environmental activism, alternatives to fur have been created and worn by the masses.

Jess Eaton proposes a completely different alternative-wearing clothes made from animals who died naturally, were consumed, or donated by pest control. In her current collection, Roadkill Couture, models can be seen wearing high-end fashion created from those who are dearly departed. This brings up the question, is this environmentally friendly? Does picking up something that would decay into the earth benefit the planet? To Eaton it is, cutting out the need to throw the remains into a landfill.

Eaton also points out that no animals were harmed in the process, making wearing fur not such a cruel choice at all. In her words, "no one died for this collection...for their fur". This puts such an interesting spin on wearing pelts. Unlike an industry that promotes luxury and downplays inhumanity, Roadkill Couture promotes recycling, without sacrificing luxury. This is a feat that is very rare to find without seeming forced. Eaton's clothing is incredibly edgy by highlighting the cycle of death.

Death is often desensitized in the media, and cruelty is involved in the lifeblood of much of the public. Eaton wishes to encourage that viewers see the beauty in the cycle of life, as these animals' beauty is immortalized. She draws from the principle that there is a use for all parts of an animal-much like Native Americans and other such groups saw sustenance. Roadkill Couture also makes art out of individuals' pets so that their owners can forever be surrounded by their pets.

This fashion line is incredibly creative as it is incredibly novel and solves a problem. We are surrounded by decomposing animals, yet we kill others for their meat and fur. It seems completely natural to do this in order to provide us with what we consider necessary for our survival. To consider animals to have importance after nature takes its toll is a new concept. Eaton encourages us to look to the circle of life and beyond the power of human choice over animals' lives.

Upon learning more about Eaton, her creativity in the visual arts is very apparent. She began as a makeup artist in the 1990s, traveling with celebrities all around the world. It is a breath of fresh air for someone in the fashion world to have a conscience about the inside of the wearer, or in this case, the means of getting a beautiful garmet. In a time when luxury is valuable, she has decided to take a substance that has little value in society and immortalize it, giving it upmost value and prestige. She has been met with standing ovations over her roadkill creations, which hardly seems precedented as many of these animals were literally picked up off the pavement.

Like many of the creatives we studied in class(Z Boys, Frank Gehry, etc), Eaton's creativity is flourishing in the right place and right time, when environmental activism and sustainability are really coming front and center in society, and when fashion is not being constrained. Eccentricity is welcome in the 21st century. Activism is encouraged. Roadkill Couture is fueled by strong imagery and analogical thought, a major creative factor according to Barron and Harrington (1981), bringing out the focus on keeping up with appearances as well as the place of life and death in the universe. It is both shocking and beautiful.  I would not be surprised to see one of Eaton's designs gracing Lady GaGa at the next possible awards show.

For more information about Jess Eaton or Roadkill Couture:




1 comment:

  1. Even though I would never display such high fashion, I greatly enjoyed checking out her designs. I think it is a great, innovative way to kill two birds with one stone- no pun intended. Like the blog pointed out, using this roadkill saves some space in the landfills, as well as provides a somewhat unique form of clothing. For those people who like fur coats, but still feel kind of guilty for killing an animal purely for this purpose, this helps them get around that guilt (which could be viewed as solving a problem or two). I find it a little creepy, but still interesting, that people can use their own pets. I guess if you want to be close to your pets for a long time, I guess that is definitely a way to go.
    I also immediately thought about the Z-boys. Jess Eaton definitely came up with this idea at the right time- when everyone is concerned about the environment and sustainability. This idea of using all the parts, as drawn from Native American teachings, seems like an incredibly efficient and logical thing to do- eliminating waste. I can't see why someone didn't think of something like this sooner. I guess one could argue, thinking creative involves thinking logically as well.


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