While wedding dresses often make a big impression during a couple’s nuptials, brides usually wear the gown once and then let it take up space in their closet. In an attempt to solve this problem, Zena Holloway creates biodegradable wedding dresses, The Guardian reports. The ocean photographer and bio-designer debuted one of her gowns, a tea-length getup adorned with a substance that looks like coral, at the Chelsea Flower Show on May 22, 2023. “The concept for this dress is a sustainable wedding dress,” she notes. “If they got married by the ocean, for example, she could sustainably trash the dress and get in the water and all the fish would just eat it, and it would just become part of the ocean.”
According to The Guardian, these special gowns are made with roots of wheatgrass. The designer of the dresses created the sustainable material after coming across plastic pollution while taking photos in the ocean. “I saw the growing amount of plastic in the ocean over the years and became upset about the materials we were using,” she explains to the outlet.
Then, after the designer grew mushrooms in her basement, she soon became interested in the mycelium, which is the root-like structure of a fungus, because it seemed to form a new material. “And then I was in the river doing a river cleanup with my camera, and through the lens, I saw bright red willow roots that were growing in the water,” she continues. “And because my head was in that place, thinking about the binding property of roots or binding of mycelium, the penny dropped.”
Once she developed the concept, Holloway started growing roots at home to understand how they might mesh together, the publication reports. Holloway experiments with growing wheatgrass over different kinds of materials, such as corals and beeswax, so it takes on those shapes, according to The Guardian. When enough roots have sprouted, the creative uses beeswax to naturally strengthen the material. The final product is a twisting product that’s reminiscent of coral.
With these biodegradable dresses, Holloway hopes that her designs inspire others to use more sustainable materials in their attire. According to the World Resources Institute, the fashion industry emits two to eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses, and that number is only growing. Even though the sector has committed to decreasing their total emissions, the institute predicts that the fashion industry’s carbon footprint will rise by 60 percent by 2030. Holloway’s eco-friendly wedding dresses are one way to curb greenhouse gas emissions.