How to buy clothes without feeling guilty

On 24 April 2013, Rana Plaza, a building that housed garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh killing more than 1,000 people. The workers were paid around $38 a month to make cheap clothes for North American and European brands. They were asked to return to work despite some cracks in the building that had been built illegally. I feel concerned with this drama because the Bangladesh workshops were working for brands I know and I buy.

drawing inspired by the Bangladesh drama

We feel incensed faced with such a tragic event but also helpless. Yet we can act at our level.

First we can contact directly clothing brands (via their website, their facebook page or by mail) to ask them to respect human rights in their factories. Why is it useful? Because brands listen to their clients.

We can also sign and spread Clean Clothes Campaign petition that asks brands to secure their factories.

Then we can try to buy more responsibly:
* Think twice before buying clothes that we may never wear
* Reuse clothes we already have. When going through our wardrobe, we sometimes find very nice clothes we had forgotten.
* Alter or repair clothes we already own, ourselves or by calling a dressmaker’s services.
* Buy second-hand clothes in shops or in garage sales
* Buy locally made clothes. Read labels to know where clothes have been made.
* Swap clothes with friends
* Buy fair trade clothes (that often are ecological too). Here are some examples of ethical fashion brands: People Tree, Veja, Ten Thousand Villages shops, the International Fairtrade Certification Mark that certifies fair trade cotton…
* Learn to sew or/and to knit in order to create our own clothes.
* Buy good quality clothes to keep them for some time

If you have other ideas to buy clothes while having a clear conscience, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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Aung San Suu Kyi on freedom from fear

Aung San Suu Kyi is the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

In 1988, she gave up her scholar career and left her family in London to go back to her native country Burma and she became politically engaged against dictatorship.

Between 1989 and 2010, she spent 15 years jailed. Upon release, she was elected Member of Parliament. Today she’s working towards Burma’s democratisation by conversing with those who imprisoned her.

drawing of Aung San Suu Kyi when she collected her Nobel Peace Prize in 2012

In 2011, Aung San Suu Kyi gave a lecture on freedom and freedom from fear broadcast on BBC radio. Here is an extract by this woman who had the courage to oppose dictatorship:

“Fear is the first adversary we have to get past when we set out to battle for freedom, and often it is the one that remains until the very end. But freedom from fear does not have to be complete. It only has to be sufficient to enable
us to carry on; and to carry on in spite of fear requires tremendous courage.”

She also said about dissidents like her:

“They pretend to be unafraid as they go about their duties and pretend not to see that their comrades are also pretending. This is not hypocrisy. This is courage that has to be renewed consciously from day to day and moment to moment.”

In short, she’s afraid but she goes on and she pretends that she’s not afraid. Anyway she’s a good actor because she looks like she really doesn’t fear anything.

For more information:
the recording and the transcript (pdf) of Aung San Suu Kyi lecture on BBC

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Victoria and Albert Museum’s colorful glass chandelier

These days, I’m searching a beautiful ceiling light. Actually, I have already found my dream chandelier but the problem is that it’s 9 meters high.

drawing of Victoria and Albert Museum's yellow and blue glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly

It’s a glass sculpture with interwoven yellow and blue tentacles by artist Dale Chihuly. This wild chandelier adorns the entrance dome of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I just find it great.

For more information:

Dale Chihuly website

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Academy Awards 2013 : Adele in a long black gown

On her arrival at the 2013 Oscars, singer Adele is wearing a long black gown by Jenny Packham. The dress is sprinkled with sparkling black rocaille beads. Its dark color nicely contrasts with Adele’s blond hair and porcelain complexion.

drawing of Adele a long black gown by Jenny Packham at the 2013 Oscars

Later in the evening, Adele is is wearing a Burberry black below the knee dress to perform Skyfall live then she’s wearing a third long black gown by Burberry to accept the Best Original Song award.

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Graffiti in a field in Malta

drawing of a graffiti in a field in Malta

It’s unusual to see a graffiti in harmony with its environment. Generally, it looks out of place in order to be noticed.
On the contrary, the graffiti I have depicted is like the caption that describes a picture.
The word “ruins”is tagged on a abandoned building, that indeed threatens to fall into ruin, in the middle of fields in Malta. Its good integration into the landscape may be the reason why it hasn’t been removed yet.

Alexa Chung wearing a white shirt and black shorts

I like model and television presenter Alexa Chung’s style. You can feel that the comfort requirement is as important as the aesthetics for her outfits. I have realized that I could easily draw my inspiration from her style as her wardrobe includes many basics.

drawing of Alexa Chung wearing a white shirt and black shorts

On the drawing, Alexa Chung is wearing a white shirt and black shorts, a simple, elegant and comfortable outfit.

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A melancholic public garden

I have drawn a view of a public garden in Nice, in the French Riviera. I think it is both beautiful and sad with an old knobbly tree with tangled branches in the foreground and behind it the statue of a huddling woman.

The melancholic side of the scene reminds me the spleens by poet Charles Baudelaire. I have read again The Flowers of Evil and found a few lines from the poem The Mask that describe what my drawing tries to express:

drawing of a melancholic public garden in Nice

— O sad great beauty! The grand river, fed
By your rich tears, debouches in my heart.
Though I am rapt with your deceptive art,
My soul is slaked upon the tears you shed.

And yet why does she weep? Such peerless grace
Could trample down the conquered human race.
What evil gnaws her flank so strong and sleek?

She weeps because she’s lived, and that she lives.
Madly she weeps for that. But more she grieves
(And at the knees she trembles and goes weak)
Because tomorrow she must live, and then
The next day, and forever — like us men.

Charles Baudelaire, excerpt from the poem The Mask (in Roy Campbell’s Poems of Baudelaire)

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Nicole Kidman in Pucci at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival

At the 2003 Cannes Film Festival where she presented the film Dogville, Nicole Kidman was wearing on of the most beautiful dresses I have seen on the steps of the Palais des Festivals.

drawing of Nicole Kidman wearing a red Pucci dress at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival

It’s a long dress with a halter neck by Pucci. The dress is held by a pearl and multicolored precious stones chocker. The actress is also wearing two bangles that match this necklace. Fanciful patterns are blossoming on the red and fuchsia dress. It looks like a surrealist painting inspired by painter Joan Miró, that would have been painted directly on the fabric.

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