Supermodel Amber Valletta showcases key looks from Agnona’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection, lensed by Ezra Petronio.
Designer Simon Holloway dedicated the collection to artist American Joan Jonas, 82, previously honored in an exhibition at London’s Tate Modern. In this film, we see Jonas at work in New York.
Peru’s Vicuña Fabric Is Worth Its Weight In Gold
Key items in Agnona’s spring 2019 collection were made in vicuña, one of two wild South American camelids living in the high alpine areas of the Andes. Vicuña, along with the guanaco, is a relative of the llama. It’s believed to be the wild ancestor of domesticated alpacas, and it remains wild today.
Nearly hunted to extinction in the late 1980’s, the vicuña herds made a slow, steady comeback and are expanding today in the wild. Driven largely by their father’s adoration of the wool product, Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana, the co-CEOs of Loro Piana, the Italian mill that was a part of the mid-century ‘Made in Italy’ movement and would eventually grow into one of the world’s largest producers of cashmere — and its biggest supplier of vicuña.
The fibers are collected using the chacu method of the Incas—a half-religious ceremony where the local community forms a human chain around the animals, slowly closing the circumference of their circle for shearing. An adult vicuna produces only about a pound of fiber a year, producing a cloth so fine it was considered to be cloth of gold, writes BofF.
For The Incas, Vicuñas Had Strong, Spiritual Powers
Of greater interest to today’s vicuña lovers is the spiritual, psychological powers of the animal that graces Peru’s flag, coat of arms and flag. Incas believed the vicuña had special powers, so that killing them was forbidden. Only Inca nobility were permitted to wear garments made of their cloth.
In a BBC report on vicuñas, we learn that although the animals may look delicate, they are built to handle the extremes of high-altitude living. Less fragile then they appear, their high red blood cell counts increase their ability to process oxygen. And their unique digestive system allows them to survive on tough ichu bunch grass.
Forgive the nasty plug-in error on Amber Valletta’s Master&Muse website. The supermodel has a long history of work in the sustainability sector. And while her internet project seems to be in stall mode, the move towards a sustainable future for our planet and people is not. Even though only an estimated one percent of global fashion is made from recycled or sustainable materials, leaders like Valletta refuse to quiet their voices.
Her latest project is a film called ‘The Changing Room’, it’s about a shopper who is transported into a ‘Wizard of Oz’-inspired portal where conscious fashion, rather than fast fashion, is the agenda, and her starry friends provide the solutions. “We’re not just educating, we actually want to change the way that people think.” Entertainment and humour, she believes, is the way to the human heart, and how to fundamentally change behaviour, but, on a basic level, she adds, “we're not talking about this enough!”
As a Sierra Club ambassador, Valletta also worked in 2018 to promote the Tony Valentino-directed film ‘Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom’.