Inside L.A.'s First Vegan Fashion Week With Stylist Tara Swennen
"I am an avid animal lover and count two pet pigs as family members," says Swennen. "My goal now is to bring awareness not only to cruelty-free fashion but also to ecological sustainability.”
The first Vegan Fashion Week kicked off in L.A. on Friday, Feb. 1 at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and ran through the weekend with a runway show and a series of events that showcased animal-free designs. The event is the brainchild of animal rights activist Emmanuelle Rienda, also the founder of L.A.-based creative agency Le Frenchlab.
Vegan fashion proponent and stylist Tara Swennen (who counts Kristen Stewart, Allison Janney and Matthew McConaughey as clients) exclusively covered Saturday’s events for The Hollywood Reporter with her 7-year-old daughter in tow.
For the occasion, Swennen wore a dress by Stella McCartney (known for offering vegan, cruelty-free fashion), vegan shoes by Aera NY and a bag by JW Pei crafted of vegan leather and recycled bottles.
Luxury brands including Versace, Michael Kors, Gucci, Coach, Burberry, Donna Karan, DKNY, Maison Margiela, Diane Von Furstenberg and Chanel all committed last year to no longer use fur in their designs, joining Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and Vivienne Westwood.
Last September, actress Sadie Sink wore a custom look from Rooney Mara's made-in-L.A. vegan fashion label Hiraeth to the Emmys, a sign of Hollywood's growing commitment to cruelty-free fashion.
“I have been a vegan now for three years,” Swennen told THR. “I am an avid animal lover and count two pet pigs as family members. A few years back, I went to the first Eco Awards at Milan Fashion week, organized by ethical fashion campaigner Livia Firth, and I became very interested in sustainable fashion.”
She continued: “In my work with my clients, I simply try to veer them towards luxury ethical fashion choices, if possible, and to be loud about the cause on my social platforms. My goal now is to bring awareness not only to cruelty-free fashion but also to ecological sustainability as well.”
Here's what caught Swennen's eye at Vegan Fashion Week.
"The street style was loud with strong messages," Swennen said. "And the support came from all around — children as young as five and a few animals, as well!"
"The vegan star power turnout was nice to see," said Swennen, who snapped photos of seats reserved for Moby and Mena Suvari at Saturday night's vegan fashion show.
"This little faux leather number would be my top pick for the Grammys!” Swennen said of the apple leather dress by Matea Benedetti. “It’s fun and flirty, with a little edge, and I love the way it was styled on the runway.”
"This beauty could be an Oscar contender for the bold and fearless! I love its Joan of Arc vibes." Swennen said of this scaled apple leather gown by the label Matea Benedetti.
"This casual-cool girl look also caught my eye," Swennen said of a dress and jacket by L.A. label Blue District shown with Manavai shoes crafted of pineapple leather. "Having just sent through my Sundance fittings, this would have been a top pick from me!"
"This is a cute look I could see on a client for a fun red carpet or a press day!" Swennen said of the shirt dress paired with vegan boots by Mink.
"The brand new Vurger Guys truck served vegan tacos and 'vurgers' and fries outside," Swennen said of the L.A. company that was founded last year.