Designer Insider: Bougainvillea Couture
, founded in 2011 by Luiven Rivas-Sanchez, combines the beauty of high fashion with the sustainable principles of slow fashion. The Central Saint Martins
graduate, whose print designs have graced the prestigious runways of John Galliano
, Jasper Conran
, and Katharine Hamnet
(just to name a few) has turned his talents to natural dyes and traditional textile techniques. By working to create a more environmentally friendly industry, Bougainvillea Couture is helping to sustain the very communities and ecosystems that are integral to global fashion production.
Luiven’s designs were featured this May 4th at Parsons NYC
, at a special seminar focused on textile dyeing techniques. For those of us that were unable to attend, Luiven was kind enough to share some of his design secrets and philosophy with FMG.
What drove you to sustainable fashion?
I have been aware of global textile pollution through my work in high fashion for a long time. In 2007 I attended an exhibition on Indigo, it motivated me to research the history of natural dyes in greater depth. I became interested in the way materials were sustainably used for textile dyeing purposes in ancient times – I wanted to follow the same pragmatic approach when I founded Bougainvillea Couture.
What inspires your aesthetic?
I am inspired by the cultural riches of the past. I see crafts as an art form, it is a part of our fashion history that needs to be embraced and not overlooked. To me “slow fashion” does not necessarily mean how long a garment takes to be made, it is the responsible and ethical endorsement of textile practices that are essential to slow fashion which fascinates me.
How is each Bougainvillea Couture piece created?
It is a process of collaboration between dyers, artists, and designers that makes production possible at Bougainvillea Couture. From the selective raw material sourcing, to dyeing, textile crafting and garment making, I aim to responsibly orchestrate the right eco-framework without abusing the regenerative processes of our ecological services. The result is a romantic and organic approach to fashion branding that generates a fresher and more casual look within the realms of haute couture.
What are the benefits of using natural dyes?
The dyes I use are mostly extracted directly from natural flora. They are better than synthetic dyes not only because they have been sustainably grown by farmers from different regions of the world and are much less toxic, but also because they yield more delicate hues.
One fact about the fashion industry everyone should know?
That behind every luxury brand, there is an army of people, often children, working in the most appalling conditions and being paid below the minimum wage. I find this totally unacceptable.
The best meal you have ever had?
On the island of Cozumel in Mexico, at a restaurant overlooking the harbor. A simple and delicious Caesar salad was transformed into a palatable feast, made with natural and fresh ingredients locally sourced and foraged by the owner. I can still taste the sauce!