Gabriela Hearst uses clean energy and nuclear fusion to inspire fashion

“Fusion is the main source of energy in the universe,” says Hearst, referring to the process of stellar nucleosynthesis, by which protons fuse at the core of all stars, emitting heat and light. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for fusion, because we’re made of dead stars.” The same could be said of its spring-summer collection, which was inspired by site visits to laboratories in the Pacific Northwest, New England and southern France, where hundreds of scientists and engineers are working to develop a technology that will produce a trickle of energy gain through fusion, a goal that has yet to be achieved. Hearst and others call them star builders. Nuclear fusion, unlike fission, produces no long-term waste, lacks the potential for fusion, and has the ability to produce a lifetime’s energy from hydrogen atoms in a single glass. of water – a kind of miracle solution to the climate crisis. The Chloé models were dressed in physics-appropriate designs: Hearst sent a sheet of eight fuchsia fabric swatches to a company so their team could match the pinkish-purple hue of a fusion reaction; hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, appear as abstract patterns on clothing. They walked down a track designed to look like a tokamak, the doughnut-shaped device that generates energy through the magnetic fusion of atoms. Mexico-based light artist Paolo Montiel-Coppa created huge glowing rings, representing magnets, which floated above the stage.

Other creators have tried to make the ravages of climate change poetic. This spring, Demna Gvasalia sent her models into a man-made blizzard. Following the monarch butterfly’s designation as endangered this summer, Collina Strada’s September show took place in a reserve amid fields of milkweed. And fashion has publicly fought against the problems that the industry itself creates. A 2020 report by non-profit environmental agency found that the global fashion industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than aviation and the maritime sector. Despite public commitments to brand and CEO customers – LVMH, Kering, Hermès – “the biggest parts of the fashion supply chain remain dependent on coal for both power generation and heat use. in the manufacture of garments. Bleaching, dyeing, weaving. Finishing clothes. Transportation. And so the biggest question of all, according to Hearst, is one that concerns not just fashion, but all industries in a global system that derives 80% of its energy from fossil fuels: “Where do we get our energy? »

It is the double way in which Hearst tries to apprehend this question that sets her apart: in aesthetics and in action. Its collections spread the themes, while Hearst simultaneously applies transparency and innovation at the production level – its mission is woven into the very fibers of its garments.

In her early twenties, Hearst developed a trick to relieve her anxiety: “I created this thing called my wish list. Whenever I feel anxious, I write the opposite of how I feel. The opposite of Hearst’s biggest worry, climate catastrophe, she realized last year, is climate success. “I started repeating it to myself like a mantra,” she says. “Climate success. Climate success. Climate success. Climate success.

Hearst, who was born in Uruguay in 1976 and grew up on her father’s 17,000-acre Paysandú cattle ranch, Santa Isabel, grew up with an ingrained understanding of conservation and ethical consumption. After her father’s death in 2011, Hearst, the eldest of four children, inherited her childhood home and surrounding ranch. It wasn’t until her husband, John Augustine Chilton Hearst, called Austin, highlighted her unique background that she realized what she had taken for granted about her upbringing could play into her fashion career. “He was the first person to say to me, ‘You have to talk about how you grew up,'” Hearst said. “’You must use the wool from your farm in your clothes.’ For this year’s Gabriela Hearst spring parade, she produced a broadsheet with images of a recent family visit: Hearst and one of her daughters in the back of a truck, a herd of cattle under the sun. In her office, the designer taps a photo of her mother, a fourth-generation Buddhist and herder, amidst a tangle of trees. “That’s where I was conceived,” she says. “In his forest.”