When Wearing a Lampshade Is Cool: Luis Valenzuela Talks Eco-Fashion

We've come a long way from the hippy days of hemp T-shirts and bottle-cap bracelets. Today's eco-fashion shows are more likely to reek of Chanel No.5 than patchouli oil and are attended by celebrities like Natalie Portman and Cameron Diaz. Don't believe us? See Luis Valenzuela, whose dramatic, structured "art-to-wear" dresses have been featured in the pages of Vogue Italy and down New York City's elite runways.

The gowns, which seem inspired by 18th century Parisian aristocratic fashion with a modern nod to surrealist artists such as Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali, are made out of discarded lampshades, footballs, IKEA bags, and other random trash. We spoke to the Venezuelan, Miami-based designer about the inspiration behind his collection.

New Times: Were you always interested in eco-fashion? Or did you start out in mainstream fashion design?

Luis Valenzuela: I've been doing Eco-Fashion since I started my career.

What inspired your desire to recycle materials in your designs?

The inspiration comes from my style. I like to do art-to-wear, and recycling

fabrics that have some personality and character are the ones that keep my


What is the most difficult aspect of creating eco-designs?

There is not a difficult aspect of doing it. The difficult part is for the

clients to accept it.

And what is the inspiration behind your new collection?

Nature and masters are always my main inspiration.

Luis Valenzuela will present a collection at Sustainatopia Honors 2011,

an awards show celebrating celebrities and businesses who lead in

sustainability on Sunday at the New World Center Frank Gehry building (500 17th

St., Miami Beach). The show will feature honorees such as Maria Bello

and Selita Ebanks, and performances by Swiss visual artist Natasha

Tsakos and Venezuelan singer Maria Rivas. Tickets cost $175 VIP, which

includes a reception with the honorees, and $100 general admission.

Visit A permanent exhibit of gowns will be up at the

Albion Hotel (1650 James Ave., Miami Beach) from April 1 to 30.

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