Questions: why this rainforests in particular?
Las Piedras is the last stretch of intact rainforest left in Peru. It is part of the largest biodiversity hotspot on the planet and also a part of the Andes Biodiversity Hotspot. But is completely unprotected land. This means that illegal loggers can log and not get caught--native communities are taken advantage of as illegal activity moves inward surrounding their lands.
Uncontacted tribes still occupy Alto Purus National Park in Las Piedras, but outside pressures are causing them to lose land and resources, especially their food source. Las Piedras and the greater Madre de Dios region as a whole - is the last hope for conserving the entire pristine Southern Peruvian Amazon. It connects three surrounding national parks, which are patrolled and regulated. If we can protect what’s in between, then all three parks are also more protected and wildlife can travel between them safety.
We work in Las Piedras because it is our home now too -- every community is our friend, our family...
Las Piedras is their last hope, and we as a nonprofit serve as its last hope. It is a large area and river - over 64 communities just on one side, but we feel confident that we can steer it in the right direction given the support. It is impossible to say that one entity can take on the world but a small piece of it, with the right team and resources, can do anything!!
What are you most excited about sharing with guests, September 20th?
Ah! So much it’s hard to decided...the core of the event is of course the fashion show, we have 6 rainforest inspired collections by designers who are as passionate and inspired by the rainforests as our team is. Each are so unique—ranging from dramatic avant-garde couture by Kalikas Amour who was in our debut of #RainforestRunway during this past London Fashion Week show to gorgeous structural dresses resemblance of the Monarch Butterfly by local designer Luly Yang and then to the adorable colorful jungle-floral kids line by Poleras de Agus embroidered and made by women in Cusco, Peru.
Aside from the fashion...there’s just so much more. Food, music, dance, chocolate, cocktails, shopping, art, etc....
Of course what excites me MOST is the only thing that will actually be a surprise for our team too which is seeing how the audience dresses up and interacts with everything we’ve created for them over the past year and a half!
What have previous years been like and how is this one different?
In previous seasons, we have shared animal and rainforest-inspired collections from as many as 18 international designers and hosted between 500-800 guests each time...this year is much more intimate with only 300 guests so we can give each a more intimate experience-each guest is a VIP this year. It’s also the first time ever that we’ve done a full sit down meal! It’s going to be epic, who doesn't love an open Ceviche bar!??
What’s the relationship between Hoja Nueva and Fashion for Conservation?
For each Fashion for Conservation campaign, we partner with a grassroots on the ground non profit where we can physically go and visit to connect with their mission and work.
What’s unique about hoja however is that most of our team members are shared. Our co-founder Samantha Zwicker and myself are both co-founders and directors at Hoja Nueva. The jungle there is home for both of us. Sam is there sometimes up to 9/10 months, each year my time extends there too—I went for the first time only for a few weeks, now I don’t like going for any less than two/three months. It’s our heaven on earth.
That’s really why we continue to do an annual gala with hoja, we are now in our fourth year!
Who is Hoja Nueva?
Hoja Nueva is a small grassroots organization and 501(c)(3) charity with a small predominantly volunteer driven team driving conservation impact much greater than seemingly possible in the lower Amazon region of Madre de Dios, Peru. A few projects I’ve personally got to be part of include RE-introducing orphaned wildlife to the rainforest whose mothers have been illegally trafficked or killed by loggers and were able to be rescued from a similar fate, supporting alternative income opportunities to local communities via micro financing and mobilizing volunteers for hands on labor (examples: sustainable cacao production, indigenous artisan program and Brazil nut harvesting), and of course physically protecting/buying/monitoring land.
Hoja Nueva navigates a whole lot more too, that’s just the start.
How can we help? / Get involved?
Come visit us at Hoja Nueva’s eco lodge and conservation center in Peru! We have a few awesome retreats coming up in Jan and Feb 2018. And of course come to our gala! We can’t wait to take you on a walk through the fashion jungle in high style...
Also feel free to check out more info via HojaNueva.org or on socials—@hojanueva @FashionforConservation
LOCATION: HOJA NUEVA
PHOTOS: DAWN MARIE
MODEL: MARIE JOHANSEN
MAKEUP: FRANCESCA BELGRANO
DESIGNS: KALIKAS ARMOUR
DIRECTOR: AVA J HOLMES