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Sunday, February 14, 2010

red·carpet·green·dress

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Jake Sully: [as he pleads for Eywa's help in attacking the Sky People] See the world where we come from: there's no green there. They've killed their mother, and they're going to do the same thing here.


While her husband James Cameron promotes understanding other cultures and saving the planet before it's too late in the mesmerizing "Avatar," Suzy Amis Cameron is advocating for global connections and ecology too. At MUSE Elementary School in Topanga, California that she founded with her sister Rebecca, kids get hands-on learning (following the Italian Reggio model, which respects children most of all) about many essential things - including respecting the earth. They do regular beach clean-up, raise and eat organic food, use non-toxic cleaning products, and in other ways model a sustainable lifestyle.

When "Avatar" was nominated for many awards including Best Picture, Suzy came up with a contest idea based on this theme:
"Caring for the planet is always in fashion." Why not give designers a chance to design her dress for the red carpet at the Academy Awards and bring attention to the idea of designing a beautiful garment in a way that is kind to the earth, and be a fund raiser for kids to go to her school who wouldn't otherwise afford it? So she put the challenge out there to designers around the world for a dress created from organic or recycled materials, or raised in sustainable ways. Here is her video pitch. You might recognize her as a former Ford model and actress (in movies such as "Fandango" with Kevin Costner; postscript: thanks, Susie, for commenting that Suzy met Cameron on the set of "Titanic" in which she played Rose's granddaughter).



I wouldn't have known about this dress design contest if I hadn't noticed it when I opened my university's home page at work Thursday. It was there because the winner is Apparel & Textile Design senior Jillian Granz at Michigan State! This is from the press release:


When submitting her design, Granz recommended the dress be made from peace silk, which allows silk worms to complete their life cycle, rather than be boiled, as is the case with traditional silk. Granz also recommended a no-waste pattern, in which every part of the pattern is utilized and put into the final garment rather than being discarded.


She designed it in her special topics class: Innovative Approaches in Apparel Design, and submitted her entry along with 15 other classmates. Here is Jillian Granz on the phone when Suzy Amis Cameron called her with the news. They'll fly Jillian out for fittings with Suzy and the dressmaker, Academy Award-winning costume designer
Deborah Scott (designed for "Avatar" but wasn't nominated for an Oscar this time), and then for a pre-Oscar party March 3 (the Academy Awards are March 7) where they'll unveil the dress. Imagine having your design career launched while you're still an undergraduate, wow. She must feel like the Queen of the World!




Michigan State University is an agricultural school and prides itself on being "green" with a great recycling program. Even our school colors are Green & White, and the name for its Reduce, Reuse, Recycle program is Be Spartan Green. Unfortunately MSU is also infamous for its tight relationship with Monsanto, developing genetically modified (GM) seeds for that company, which makes many of us angry. I hope our Green & White school will evolve into being more famous for sustainable practices, like this green fashion statement. After the reveal March 3, I'll try to remember to post a photo of Jillian's dress. I wonder what color it is?
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59 comments:

Gwei Mui said...

What a great win and how fascinating and encouraging to see that big buck arts can influence and touch society in ways that may benefit us all.

Susan said...

This is so awesome!!!! I can't tell you how excited this makes me feel and I can't wait to see the dress! I can just imagine how beautiful it will be. What a pretty girl, too.

Well, talk about a conflict of interests, eh? Monsanto is corporate evil in my book, especially after watching 'Food, Inc.' I hope MSU resolves that issue in a good way.

Suzy Amis Cameron was also in her husband's 'Titanic'. That's how they met. She played Rose's granddaughter.

Ruth said...

Hi Gwei Mui, I think individuals are the ones who make a difference. And individuals with resources really can.

NJ said...

This is pretty cool and exciting. I agree it's a pretty great start to a career when you land something like this before graduating. My daughter knew a girl who attended the same college as she did. She was in Musical Theatre and she landed the lead role in We will Rock you in Toronto that I believe ran over a year. I love hearing these kind of success stories.

Ruth said...

Susie, yes she's so pretty. I really look forward to seeing the dress.

Oh don't get me started on Monsanto.

Can you believe I didn't do a total filmography on Suzy!? Thank you for letting me/us know that she met Mr. Cameron when she played Rose's granddaughter.

CottageGirl said...

It warms my heart to see that someone with the resources such as Suzy Cameron just does not sit back and eat bon bons and wait for the world to cater to her needs.
She is out there making a difference ... in children's lives, in the environment as well as in the life of a lovely undergrad.
Congratulations to Michigan State! What a special recognition for all of the great work that is done there!
Yes, please post a pic of the dress ... Can't wait to see it.

Deborah said...

This is a wonderful story, Ruth, and how amazing that it's your school at the heart of it.
Jillian's face is priceless - I hope she sees this post!
I loved her choice of Peace Silk - I've never heard of this and was completely ignorant of the process used to make regular silk. She is truly thinking 'outside the box'. Fabulous.
When I hear of young people like this, I can't help but think the world is in good hands.

*jean* said...

oo so very delightful to have that opportunity! can't wait to see this dress! thanks for keeping up the good fight, ruth!!!!

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, A happy post.There was a photo of a portion of the dress in this mornings Free Press. Smiles all around. It's wonderful to see young people advance and do well. Yey to Cameron. Did you see her film,The Hurt Locker?

Shari Sunday said...

Hi. Enjoyed your post as always. I never knew about peace silk. I like the idea. Can't wait to see the dress. Happy (Green) Valentine's Day.

Shaista (Lupus in Flight) said...

Ruth this is brilliant celebrity news to share - the scale of good works done by some possessors of wealth is beyond our imaginings or means. I too had no idea James Cameron had married Rose's lovely grand daughter - he must have been newly in love when he shouted "I'm the King of the World" at the Oscars :)
She sounds the kind of person impossible not to fall in love with and it will be lovely to see her in the winning 'peace silk' dress.

Ginnie said...

Ohhh, this is just wonderful, Ruth! I am so proud of all of you there at MSU who must be popping your buttons right now. This is such a great story, from beginning to end. I'm sure many of us will remember to remind you about wanting to see the dress, in case you forget!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful idea.
And I still have to see Avatar.

Mama Zen said...

I had never heard of Peace Silk. How cool!

♥ Kathy said...

How awesome! Happy Valentine's Day Ruth ♥

Helena said...

That's wonderful! Thanks for telling this.

Sidney said...

That is an interesting idea! We need more of that.
Happy Valentine's Day !

California Girl said...

This is interesting and probably not something I would have heard about but for you. Good idea on the part of Ms. Cameron for raising recycling and environmental awareness. Thanks for raising your blog readers awareness too.

maggie said...

Loved that you shared this with us.
Can't wait to see the dress. Peace silk worms--does that mean there are peace chickens, peace cows????

dutchbaby said...

This is fantastic! Cameron has created a win-win-win situation here. A win for the environment, a win for a budding designer, and a win for herself because you know she will end up with a gorgeous red-carpet dress. Congratulations to Ms. Granz and to Michigan State!

Is "peace silk" the same as Thai silk? I prefer it over the Chinese silk because the little bumps give it a more interesting texture.

As for the boiled silk worms, they aren't boiled only to get the long unbroken silk thread, but they are an important source of protein in the regions they are grown. From a humane perspective, it's no different from eating beef, pork or chicken.

How do I know all this about silk worms? I raised them one spring when I received tiny larvae from our kids' preschool teacher.

Too bad about the alliance with Monsanto and the GM program at the university - shame on them.

C.M. Jackson said...

ruth--magnificent!! Mr Jackson and I just came back from seeing Avatar--the first time in a long time I will be able to say I have seen a movie nominated before the Oscars--given the overall theme of the movie and the unfortunate monsanto relationship, I think it is thrilling that your school is involved with continuing the message of green and protecting the earth--can't wait to see the dress-best c

rauf said...

Great career launch for the MSU student Ruth. The university must be proud of her.

'Peace silk' is not new here. it is called Ahimsa silk which lacks the shine or luster and less strong than conventional silk and the they get broken yarn. People here (including my Pollachi friends ) are promoting 'ethical dress' made out of Ahimsa or peace silk and ethical cotton !!! and i smile. This makes my jeans very unethical.

i smile again when i see 'caring for the planet'

Ruth said...

That's cool about your daughter's friend, NJ. When someone breaks through like this, there's skill, talent, timing, perseverance, and sometimes a whole lot of luck. There is so much talent out there, and much of it never gets discovered.

I'm happy for Jillian.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, sometimes Don and I "waste" time imagining what we would do if we won the lottery. We develop grand schemes, much of them educational.

Then we come back to earth. I think it would be fun to spend someone else's money.

Ruth said...

Deborah, peace silk was new to me too. It's hard, I guess, to know how much is gimmick and what is truly going to change practices. Being aware of what we are doing is a good start. Everything we do intrudes on something else! There is no way around that.

Ruth said...

Yes, Jean, I am quite curious about it. I also wish I knew more about the other entries - how many, what did they pay to submit, is that where Suzy raised the money?

Ruth said...

Cathy, oh, I saw Jillian with a lavender dress - I wonder if that's the one?

Are you thinking of Kathryn Bigelow re: The Hurt Locker? I couldn't find a connection with Suzy. I could be wrong!

Jeanie said...

Pretty interesting, Ruth. Who knew? Not me!

ds said...

Well, now I have even more of a reason to watch the Academy Awards! Congratulations to Jillian,and by extension, MSU! So exciting; reminds me of another undergraduate who got her start as the result of a broadbased competition: architect Maya Lin...

And here I was complaining at Arti's that while I loved Avatar's effects I wanted more "story" (the hows & whys of Gaia). But the backstory is even more interesting.
Thank you.

Arti said...

What an interesting and informative post, Ruth! A great prep for the upcoming Academy Awards too. I enjoy reading your 'entertainment' and 'movie' posts. This one on 'Red Carpet, Green Dress' is such a delight! Although I may not necessarily cheer for Avatar, I'm all for the down-to-earth persona and the social concern of SAC. Thanks for the video clip!

photowannabe said...

Congratulations. This is fascinating. I eagerly await seeing the dress.
I like the push at the University and hope it continues.

Bella Rum said...

Very exciting. How wonderful that a career is launched in such a positive way. Individuals can make a difference.

Ruth said...

Shaista, Suzy does strike me as someone not overly affected by Hollywood.

I think it would be fun to visit that school for a week and see how the kids learn. I remember mimeographs from school, no hands on learning after kindergarten where I made butter and applesauce.

Ruth said...

Boots, it's like with the Olympics: I need the background stories to get involved and interested. Having something to watch for March 7 will be fun!

Ruth said...

Pamela, I didn't really want to see it, but I felt I should. I think it's worth seeing.

Ruth said...

Me either, Mama Zen. I am eager to see how it looks.

Ruth said...

♥ Kathy, every day is heart day for you.

Ruth said...

Helena, human ingenuity keeps evolving. I love it.

Vagabonde said...

This was a great post Ruth. I had not heard about peace silk but this dress I hope will give it more recognition. How exciting for the young lady in your university and for her classmates as well I am sure – actually for the whole university. It is always nice to have publicity about something which is “good news” for a change. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the dress.

Peter said...

As always a complete and very interesting post, with so many links which I had to check!

Now, I'm very curious to see what the dress will look like. You promised to report, but I may even watch the Oscar ceremony, although here it's during full night (but I'm not a big sleeper).

Well, at least some compensation for Monsanto! What a fantastic thing for Jillian!

... and as being one of the few who haven't yet seen Avatar, I may go this afternoon!

Ruth said...

Hi Sidney, ♥ to you in the Philippines. Now I get to settle in and learn about Chinese New Year's dragon.

Ruth said...

Thank you, California Girl. You know, this blog is a chance for me to find out about the world. I am always grateful for what I learn when I write a post, and also when I read those of others.

Ruth said...

Maybe, Maggie, and peace people!!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, you raised silk worms?? Of course you did! I think I could ask you about anything, and you would know something about it. I love that.

So I found a site that says:

"Called raw silk in the fashion trade, the true designation of this fabric is noil silk. It is a very versatile 'peace' silk, spun thick and nubbly like cotton, with a matte surface and drapey hand. When washed it crinkles into a matte crepe that flows with the body when worn."

This is the site:
http://www.aurorasilk.com/fabrics/silks_matte_and_peace/index.html

Yes, shame on MSU and Monsanto.

Judy said...

Please post a follow up on this. I will be on train and won't see any of the Oscars.

Ruth said...

Hi, Mrs. Jackson, I wish we could sit and discuss the movie.

There are a lot of good things our university does. We have a wonderful organic farm co-op that I've partaken of. I wonder what the next ten years will see regarding Monsanto. I hope, I wish, they would become obsolete.

gemma said...

How cool!I can't wait to see the dress.Peace silk wow love that.

Ruth said...

rauf, it's fashionable to be green, and some franchises will capitalize on it and do the minimum to look good. It's good business these days to be green. Everyone wants to feel better.

Yes, you've made a very good case in Daylight Again in your environment series that Mother Earth will recover, she takes care of herself. It's the humans who might not survive. I know how much you honor Mother Earth and would not be disrespectful. We all intrude on our environment, we can't help it. I want to intrude as little as possible.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, my home page for Internet Explore is msu.edu, and that's the first I'd seen it, when I opened it at work. Maybe WKAR will do something about her?

Ruth said...

Oh DS, thank you for mentioning Maya Lin. I did not pay enough attention when the Vietnam War Memorial was unveiled in 1981 to realize that she was an undergraduate when she won that design competition - beating over 1400 contestants!

I have not been to Arti's post about Avatar yet. I did not really want to see it, and it took me half the movie to warm up to it. Then I got attached to the characters. But really, the story is a bit worn and thin. Very beautiful to look at though.

Ruth said...

Arti, do you know how much I like your acronyms? It took me a minute to know what UITA was at your blog comment. Then SAC. My mom and dad used to give each other cards all the time. On the envelope would be an acronym. They couldn't open the envelope until they had deciphered what the acronym stood for.

I completely agree on Avatar. Visually it's stunning. I loved the first night scene. I got attached to the characters. But the story is worn and predictable. Just because it's in a glossy new design and technically formidable doesn't make it necessarily more appealing to me. But I'm an odd one and don't get too excited with the latest technologies.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Sue. When I contemplate what it would take to undo what Monsanto does, and the tight bond between them and the university, I lose heart.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bella. It will be fun to watch Jillian after graduation. I'm sure we'll keep hearing about her around here.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, after just reading your post about Emory I hope we can grow more in that direction. There is a lot of good education happening at MSU, but I always feel this Monsanto umbrella overshadows the good.

I am so curious to see the dress too.

Ruth said...

Bonjour et hejsan, Peter. I wonder if Suzy will be one of the ladies considered best dressed after the fact. I am always interested to see how my assessments compare with the fashion critics'. It would be terrific if Jillian's design gets to be among the praised ones. Those images get looked at for years after the fact.

Ruth said...

Will do, Judy.

Ohh, a train. I want to go on a train somewhere.

Ruth said...

Gemma, I promise I'll post the dress.

lifestyle week said...

A good story Ruth...Thanks...I like the idea of peace silk...Waiting to see the marvelous work.

Ruth said...

Welcome, Lifestyle Week. If I find a photo after the reveal Wednesday I'll post it. Otherwise I'll wait until the Oscars.