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Fashion : A SPECIAL REPORT: SPRING INTO FALL : Ecowear : Earth Angels in England


LONDON — For 25 top London designers, fashion awareness is increasingly about much more than where to hang a season's hemline.

Coordinated by Arabella Pollen and designer/retailer Joseph Ettedgui, the group is organizing a celebrity fashion show May 24 at London's Natural History Museum to support the Friends of the Earth Rainforest campaign.

"Actually, the Friends of the Earth Rainforest group approached us," said Pollen, "and it's taken off from there. Certainly, I was aware of the problems before I became involved in this protest but I have to say I was ignorant. I've learned a lot, and through my own heightened awareness I've made other people think."

The group she and Ettedgui have organized includes Joe Casley Hayford, Jasper Conran, Bruce Oldfield, Betty Jackson, Anthony Price, Artwork, Caroline Charles, David Fielden, Edina Ronay, John Galliano, John Richmond, Katharine Hamnett, Marion Foale, Monica Chong, Paul Smith, Richard James, Victor Edelstein, Vivienne Westwood and Workers for Freedom.

Each will present selections from their fall/winter collections in an informal show around the stuffed dinosaur in the museum's great hall. Everyone has offered to design an outfit with a rain-forest theme, which will be auctioned at some point to raise even more money for the cause.

Ettedgui and Pollen, who are trying to persuade top international models to fly in for the show, have come up with a back-to-back limited edition commemorative T-shirt, with all the profits going to Friends of the Earth.

Even before becoming officially involved in the Friends of the Earth movement, several British designers were making their ecological sentiments known. Betty Jackson used intarsia knit maps on the backs of long knit coats--her tribute to the Brazilian rain forest--and hat designer Stephen Jones designed Mylar caps printed with satellite weather "one world" maps.

Last season, Joe Casley Hayford embroidered his clothes with autumn leaves. And then there's militant Katharine Hamnett. Since 1985 she has used slogan T-shirts to express her views on everything from acid rain to pollution to the killing of whales. At a fashion reception hosted by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street several seasons ago, Hamnett showed up wearing a T-shirt which read: "58 Percent Don't Want the Pershing," her comment on Thatcher's decision to allow American missiles on British soil.

On June 14, she will be in New York to attend a conference at the United Nations to discuss these and other fashion/environmental issues.

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