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Is That Patchouli?

Organic fashion isn't exactly suffering from an image problem.

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Amy Mohlenhoff

Amy Mohlenhoff

Photo By PASHA ANTONOV

Organic fashion isn't exactly suffering from an image problem. Stella McCartney paints the town green, Natalie Portman has tried her hand at designing vegan shoes and Barneys New York makes high fashion and high ideals compatible. However, a taint of hippie-dippy still persists, and the organizers of Thursday's House of Organic sustainable fashion show didn't do much to dispel that image. The show started almost an hour late (actually, that part was very high fashion.) Those in attendance grew restive as Mila Watson and Carlos Vivanco of Andromeda Crash, along with designer Tor Söderin, treated the crowd to an endless jam session on electric guitar. And when the music died down, instead of a parade of models, the show began with a supremely awkward moment as host Summer Rayne Oakes (a model whose Web site also identifies her as an activist and "entrepreneurist"), stood around in her underwear complaining that she couldn't find anything eco-friendly to wear. (Of her bra-and-boy-shorts combo, she added, "It's all organic, no worries.") Luckily, "Project Runway" alum Elisa Jimenez came to the rescue, using Oakes as an impromptu fit model for a halter gown made from bamboo and Lycra spandex. Wearing high-tops from Nike's upcoming eco-friendly line, Jimenez spoke about her involvement in the green cause and encouraged the audience to get involved, saying, "Why not be brave enough to be the vanguard, and [design] for the future and for all time?"

The show itself, a scheduled multidesigner five-hour-long affair, proved that the eco set may well be hardier than the rest of us. There were some high points, such as a Forties-inspired tailored hemp jacket and wool skirt by designer Amy Mohlenhoff, and a blue hemp twill coat with shell buttons from Melissa Kirgan. Of course, there were also some middle-school art teacher moments, but the overall effect was of sweet-natured earnestness. Designer, show organizer and owner of the Lower East Side boutique Ekovaruhuset Johanna Hofring explained her process for selecting designers for the show. "We just asked them because we love their work," she said. As for the gray crochet-detail frock she had on, she was equally nonchalant: "I just finished it last night."
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