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Filtering by Category: Elephantasia

Elle L Interviews Elephantasia Lead Designer René Garza

Kelly Zwicker

Music artist, Elle L joins the Fashion For Conservation (FFC) for 2018 to curate special content online and for Fashion Week. We look forward to Elle's future projects and collaborations with FFC as a London Ambassador. This week we shine a spotlight on Elephantasia lead designer René Garza,  interviewed by Elle L. 


René GARZA in Conversation.

The stars aligned last London Fashion Week when I had the incredible opportunity to meet and sit next to lead designer René Garza on Front Row for Elephantasia — a breathtaking and ethically-inspired fashion show created by Fashion For Conservation.

In life there can be a butterfly effect where a chance meeting can lead to greatness. This was definitely one of those moments. I instantly gravitated towards René’s personality and his artistic nature. The beauty of social media meant that we were able to stay in touch when he returned to America. I also connected with Ava Holmes co-founder and director of Fashion For Conservation, which lead to the birth of this concept of a ‘conversation’ between artists about conservation. 

I myself as a music artist find real inspiration in nature. My debut project, Cocoon uses the metaphor of metamorphosis to allude to themes of breaking out and free. Working alongside FFC resonated. I feel the time is now to start speaking up about conscious art, how nature can play a role in creativity and the importance of sustainable art for the future of fashion and other creative industries.

Pictured: Elle L by Dawn-Marie Jones

Pictured: Elle L by Dawn-Marie Jones

René was naturally the perfect ‘first’ for this project as our meeting was so organic and a vital part of this project coming to life. We’ve been keeping the conversation on conservation alive here:

E L: René, it's a pleasure to be able to speak more about your work and the inspirational FFC show Elephantasia. 

R G: It's great we can make this happen.

E L: Do you remember the first moment you chose to be a designer? Was it what you always wanted to do?

R G: I was always into art and photography growing up. I liked fashion in terms of caring about what I wore and went through many different phases of styles - from preppy to goth. But I had never considered being a designer. It’s actually a funny story. I had a friend and he wanted to be a fashion designer. His wife entered him into a competition and she also entered me without letting me know until the last minute, so I had to make something! I went to the fabric shop and brought cheapest material I could find and made this chartreuse coloured piece. It had two slits going above the waist and chains for straps. 

E L: Sounds like a sexy number! 

R G: (giggles) Yes! Although my Mum helped me make it. It was very ’put together’ rather than properly constructed. I entered it. Of course it didn’t win but it was the starting point. We went to dinner with another designer we met and decided to put on a fashion show. We had over a thousand people show up for our first fashion show. 

E L: Wow. When was this?

R G: It was in the 90s.

E L: You don’t look old enough! Was it one of those epiphany moments? Like ‘‘This is what I’m supposed to do’’?

R G: (giggles) I had no intention of being a designer. It all happened very quickly. I had no knowledge. It just took off that way. I think anything visual resonates - design is design, so if you’re artistic it correlates to other areas and if you have an affinity to something it becomes it's own thing.

E L: I agree, with a bit of experience. I would describe myself as a 360 artist because I model, write, direct and of course make music and they all contribute to make up who I am. 

R G: Exactly, we can do more than one thing. I think people sometimes stop themselves from achieving their full potential.

E L: I think it’s contributing towards a bigger movement where we are able to do more and technology allows us. We don’t have to physically cut tape in a studio anymore for example. There’s obviously beautiful qualities to real mediums too but it's great that we can evolve like this as creatives.

R G: Yes, technology is playing a huge role in how creatives work.

E L: I have been told to stick to one thing before because it’s ‘safer’ but it’s not in my nature. I'm still very new but I like to embrace it. My feeling is more and more artists are going in this direction of expressing themselves in different ways.

R G: I think the beautiful thing is that art should scare you. It's hugely inspiring as an artist to do things that scare you. If you feel comfortable that’s when the art gets stagnated. If you’re too confident or it’s too easy, you won't give it your all.

E L: What would you say are your main inspirations & influences?

R G: My main inspiration for design usually comes from Gothic or historical references. Art plays an important role in making a collection. My collections are made from up cycled clothing or end of bolt fabrics, so that really dictates most of what I can do. I get a general theme for the collection and go with what can be done with the materials I have at hand. I’m also inspired by darkness and the colour black. I’m drawn to the mysterious. I’m minimal in my designs. Getting a little bit bolder with colour for Fashion For Conservation.

Pictured: René Garza design for  Elephantasia  at London Fashion Week. As featured in Vogue. 

Pictured: René Garza design for Elephantasia at London Fashion Week. As featured in Vogue. 

E L: How did the collaboration with FFC come about?

R G: My collaboration with FFC started when a dear of mine Leza Raley-Labrador put Ava Holmes and I in touch. We had a general conversation about her efforts and projects and I told her about my work with the non-profit design house Magpies & Peacocks. I really had no plans to show a collection with FFC for their Elephantasia event, but for a few days after I was seeing elephants all day everyday. I saw that as a sign. When I called her back she said there was two days left to submit designs. They accepted my designs and ended up opening and closing the London Fashion Week show at Fashion Scout. 

E L: In what ways does nature specifically inspire your creations?

R G: The Collection showing in February is inspired by flowers. The theme is Rainforest, so I wanted something not so obvious and more about nature. There are layers and volume to the clothes that resemble flowers (at least I see flowers)! l Even when the collection's thematic inspiration is not nature inspired, the fact that they are up cycled, and most have little to zero waste, make them by default inspired by nature.

E L : I'm excited to see it. The zero waste element, alongside conscious consumption with how I source what I eat and wear is a huge thing for me right now! I find it shocking how much waste one person can make on a daily basis and it’s worrying that fast fashion is such a growing trend. My friend has this cool brand called NeverFade in Soho and he has a studio with artists in residence downstairs.

RG: Ah, that’s cool. 

E L: Yes, I’ll have to take you when you’re in London. You can take in a garment and the artist will recreate the piece for you and put bespoke artwork on it. You have something totally unique and it breathes new life into what you’re wearing. Of course you pay for it but it reworks and reframes your style.

RG: Yes, Magpies and Peackocks have a very similar heart with regards to the up-cycling element and I think it’s so important. A huge amount of fabrics and clothing end up in landfill. People don’t always think to recycle. 85% of textiles end up in landfill, that is 12.5 Million tons per year in the US alone.

E L: What role does sustainability and conservation play in your work? Are there challenges? Can these challenges be a source of creativity?

R G:  I use pieces of up cycled fabrics from interior design outlets for example. Otherwise they would go to landfill so I often have a starting point governed by what’s available which is both the challenge but also the positive because it gives me a starting point and focus. I like to challenge myself to use the fabrics as they are so the piece is often tailored around that. It does mean that most of creations are bespoke so it means mass production is a challenge, but is there anything more beautiful than something handcrafted and made specifically for you?

E L: I couldn't agree more. Your closing runway piece for Elephantasia was breathtaking and made from up-cycled material too. I'm aware this piece was inspired by the Elephant - could you tell us how you came up with the vision for this & what was the process involved in creating it?

R G: Thank you, the Finale piece was a re-interpretation of an art installation I created that covered an entire building's facade. I was watching a video of a herd of elephants and the ears moving in the wind reminded me of my art technique. So I took that concept and created a dress. I envision each section as an ear of an elephant and what if they listened and understood what is being done to them and this planet. 


Pictured: Rene's Garza's closing piece for runway show Elephantasia, featured in Vogue.

E L: Have you ever had to make a sacrifice to create the art you want?

R G: I think everyone does. In terms of location I was living in New York and leading a very comfortable lifestyle, working with celebrities as a stylist. Now I’m living in Texas and I have taken huge financial sacrifices to follow my heart. You’ll keep getting certain difficulties until you learn that lesson in life, I think.

E L : But the risk is worth the reward right? I can relate. I think it’s heading for

bigger ceilings. The heart wins.

R G: I hope so! I am enjoying working with so many people making a positive impact on our planet. That has lead to some pretty great experiences.


Pictured: René Garza 

Pictured: René Garza 


You can see René Garza’s Rainforest inspired solo runway show on February

18th at Freemasons Hall, as part of Fashion Scout for London Fashion Week. 


Join us: Cocktails for Conservation. Tickets available here.



ava holmes

           Elle L and lead designer Rene Garza front row, Elephantasia at London Fashion Week SS18

           Elle L and lead designer Rene Garza front row, Elephantasia at London Fashion Week SS18

I'm incredibly excited to join forces with Fashion For Conservation. The creativity, people involved and purpose behind the organisation inspires me. I'm looking forward to raising awareness and supporting important issues in conservation. 

I had the pleasure of getting to know the team after being sat next to lead designer, René Garza Front Row at Elephantasia for London Fashion Week. It was a breathtakingly beautiful runway show and the stars must have aligned because it's lead me to this moment where I'll now be actively collaborating to create content over the next few weeks and months. 


Upcoming, 'Artists For Conservation' is a concept inspired by my passion for conscious art, nature and all that Fashion For Conservation are doing. We need to draw attention to important issues and I hope to be an advocate for how fashion and other artistic industries can put ethics at the backbone of their work to create in a way that protects future generations of ecosystems and wildlife.  

Artists have such power to initiate change by opening up a conversation. If we bring our voices together, we can create a message and impact on what matters.


Nature inspires me on so many levels. My debut EP, COCOON uses natural metaphor to express themes of change within a person and themes of breaking out of fear to become your most authentic self. The process can be painful but ultimately healing as it allows you to evolve and evolution is a constant cycle. I found using the concept of the butterfly and metamorphosis more potent than to indulge in speaking about myself directly in these tracks. I have more music coming this year, including a re-imagiantion of Bowie's Man Who Sold The World, which I recently performed on BBC introducing, I look forward to sharing many more tracks with you soon.


Elle L joins the FFC team for a special collaboration. Each month she will be curating a new monthly 'artist' feature. Seeking inspirational conscious artists in the world of Fashion,  Music, Beauty, Food & more, Elle L will be discussing how sustainability and nature can be a driving force of creativity and how we can make art without affecting animals and the ecosystems of our world to create a sustainable environment. 

                                                          Image credit: StoyanovandJones

                                                          Image credit: StoyanovandJones


Described as 'One to watch Now and Beyond' by the likes of CLASH magazine - 360 music artist, model, director & writer, Elle L has had works published on CNN international as a writer as well as been part of her own show on the network. She has also worked on Emmy nominated documentary for the IFC and BBC, directed for Copenhagen Fashion Week and as a model has walked for London Fashion Week. Most recently her focus has rooted itself in music, the medium she resonates to the most. Elle L has received worldwide press on her first single, been featured on BBC introducing and her second single, CIRCLES is the new sound of Lacoste Pour Femme.

Elle L represents a new-wave of millennial artists that allow expression to be manifested in a variety of channels, her alignment brings out this energy to find the world's most conscious creators so we can get everyone talking about topics that matter. 

This weekend, Elle L will be interviewing FFC lead designer, René Garza in the lead up to Fashion for Conservation's debut of a campaign to save the Amazon rainforest at London Fashion Week in Covent Garden's Freemasons' Hall venue, February 18th 2018. Stay tuned! 

Connect with Elle L:

Instagram: @ellel__


5 Holiday Gifts for Fashion and Elephant Lovers

ava holmes

If you're shopping for your last minute gifts this season, don't miss out on these 5! Gift your loved ones a fashion forward new year while contributing to a healthier, happier planet in 2018.

And if you're reading this closely...we would like to gift YOU with 10% off your entire purchase. Enter FASHIONFORWARD10 at checkout.

Your gift funds conservation; 30% of each sale supports the African Wildlife Foundation. Happy Holidays from your Fashion for Conservation family!

1. LOVE ME by NO VOICE. Elephantasia limited edition.

LOVE ME Crew Neck by NO VOICE (Organic Cotton)

NO VOICE X Elephantasia is originally designed and produced by artistic and romantic partners Oscar Abbots - international designer for brands like Roberto Cavalli, Josep Font, Adolfo Dominguez and currently Zara - and Riccardo Ceretti - artist and archeologist with an innate passion for fashion. They live between Italy and Spain where they "seduce all creative fields like music, film, architecture and art to reflect them in the wonderful world of fashion."

2. Fashion fighting for Conservation custom bracelet.

"Fashion Fighting for Conservation" bracelet hand engraved by Squirrel Vs. Coyote
from 34.00

Only 24 made. Available for custom printing! A little bit Renaissance a little bit rock and roll. Squirrel Vs. Coyote brings contemporary fashion with bold accessories for fearless champions of uniquity. Available for custom printing! Only 24 made. Available for custom printing! 

3. Elephant and monkey scarf. Elephantasia limited edition.

Elephant and monkey woven scarf by VISMAYA. Elephantasia Limited Edition
85.00 120.00

Vismaya hand weaves a variety of breathtaking shawls, scarves and wraps. This Elephantasia limited edition is hand made from 90% modal, 10% Cashmere, and non-toxic dies. Ever since its inception, Vismaya’s accessory collections have quickly become a renowned label across the globe. The brand offers seasonal collections of gorgeous accessories in vibrant colors, exquisite patterns, and sumptuous fabrics including silk, linen, wool, cotton, cashmere, modal and a variety of blends. The artwork depicted on this specific scarf is by Colette Miller, founder of the Global Angel Wings Project, founded first in the streets of LA. Colette paints angel wings that are human-sized, interactive public art, and she has since painted wings globally in Kenya, Australia, Taiwan, France, Cuba, Mexico, and many US states. 

4. Tusked silhouette jumpsuit and dress. Elephantasia limited edition.

*ORIGINAL* Elephantasia Jumpsuit by Rachel Allan

**This is a custom item, please send us your measurements with your order.
"We at Rachel Allan support Elephantasia because we want to help bring awareness to the many issues surrounding and effecting elephants, such as being poached for their ivory tusks or losing large amounts of their habitats due to human expansion."

*ORIGINAL* Elephantasia Jumpsuit by Rachel Allan

**This is a custom ordered item, please send us sizes with your purchase.
"We at Rachel Allan support Elephantasia because we want to help bring awareness to the many issues surrounding and effecting elephants, such as being poached for their ivory tusks or losing large amounts of their habitats due to human expansion."

5. Fashion for Conservation Membership. The gift that keeps giving!


Tax Deductible Welcome to the Wild Package:

  • Complimentary copy of Fashion for Conservation Magazine: full color luxury print publication designed and directed by the art director behind "100 Years of Vogue."
  • VIP Golden Ticket to Fashion for Conservation shows at Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018 and New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019.
  • Limited edition elephant print gifted from South African/Kenyan wildlife photographer Chantelle Melzer valued at $280 US dollars.
  • Artisan crafted small-batch rose truffles from Seleušs Chocolates (US)
  • Invitation to exclusive member-only events and experiences upcoming in New York, Seattle, LA, London, Ibiza, Berlin and Cape town.
  • 100% of your donation goes to African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). 

Tax-deductible receipt matching your donation amount. 100% of your donation goes to African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). 

Become A Member



Cocktails for Conservation recap with Hoja Nueva

ava holmes

By Kelly Zwicker

Thank you to all who came out to celebrate with us this Giving Tuesday 2017 (November 28th every year) Here is the official recap, cheers!

The Cocktails for Conservation themed drink menu set the tone for an unforgettable evening of cocktails, fashion and conservation with local and organic drinks provided by Finn River Farms, Kerloo Cellars, and GT's Kombucha, and passed hors d'oeuvres by Ravishing Radish catering.

Cocktails for Conservation featured "Forest Floral" and "Black Jaguar Bitters" speciality cocktails hand-crafted with herbal infused 7 Par Vodka by Aubrey Koch of Rootkin Remedy.

Cocktails for Conservation featured "Forest Floral" and "Black Jaguar Bitters" speciality cocktails hand-crafted with herbal infused 7 Par Vodka by Aubrey Koch of Rootkin Remedy.

VIP guests received their glasses and goodie bags before being ushered to their front row seats before the show. 

VIP guests received their glasses and goodie bags before being ushered to their front row seats before the show. 

Over a dozen guests live stream the event. Yuliya Suleymanova put particular attention and efforts into ensuring her followers and fans at SULEY GROUP saw the show through her lense. 

Over a dozen guests live stream the event. Yuliya Suleymanova put particular attention and efforts into ensuring her followers and fans at SULEY GROUP saw the show through her lense. 

Fashion for Conservation's Elephantasia SS18 campaign featured one last time this year for an intimate audience of 150 special guests in Seattle's Axis Pioneer square Tuesday evening.

Models flaunt their looks in the photo-booth courtesy of Shutterbus after the show.

Models flaunt their looks in the photo-booth courtesy of Shutterbus after the show.

Raven, Sabrina and Sage model Elephantasia designs by J. Von Stratton, René Garza, and Meredith Allen. 

Raven, Sabrina and Sage model Elephantasia designs by J. Von Stratton, René Garza, and Meredith Allen. 

A marketplace of pop-up shops invited guests to shop from brands that give back the planet: Aveda Vann Edge Salon, Indi Chocolates, Coyote and Squirrel custom Jewelry, Axis space artists, and the two hosting organizations: Fashion for Conservation and Hoja Nueva.


Event staff pose for a team photo. Left to Right: Vilte Rooney, Vance Ashworth, Meiko Parton and Samantha Zwicker.

Event staff pose for a team photo. Left to Right: Vilte Rooney, Vance Ashworth, Meiko Parton and Samantha Zwicker.

Makeup artists' and hair prepare for metamorphosing the models and staff for showtime.

Makeup artists' and hair prepare for metamorphosing the models and staff for showtime.

Rose Prado of Vann Edge Aveda salon applies the final styling touch to each Elephantasia model.

Rose Prado of Vann Edge Aveda salon applies the final styling touch to each Elephantasia model.

Makeup artist Leo applies foundation on event producer Ava Holmes (wearing Fashion for Conservation NO VOICE hoodie).

Makeup artist Leo applies foundation on event producer Ava Holmes (wearing Fashion for Conservation NO VOICE hoodie).

Executive Producer Ava Holmes and Creative Director Nazanine Afshar thank the event sponsors and volunteers.

Executive Producer Ava Holmes and Creative Director Nazanine Afshar thank the event sponsors and volunteers.

Host Meiko announces the final raffle winners and energizes the crowd for the final show...

Host Meiko announces the final raffle winners and energizes the crowd for the final show...

To close the show, Dawnamatrix designs six beautiful butterfly inspired wearable art pieces previewing next year's Rainforest Gala with Hoja Nueva.

A huge thank you to KIND bar and GT's Synergy Kombucha for sponsoring this event and supporting our conservation efforts. We so appreciate your contributions and helping make our events so enjoyable for our guests! 

Cocktails for Conservation supports rainforest conservation efforts with Seattle and Peruvian amazon based charity Hoja Nueva.   Photography:  Kelly Zwicker Photography (   We hope everyone that attended the event was inspired in all things fashion and conservation! 

Cocktails for Conservation supports rainforest conservation efforts with Seattle and Peruvian amazon based charity Hoja Nueva.

Photography: Kelly Zwicker Photography ( 

We hope everyone that attended the event was inspired in all things fashion and conservation! 

Elephantasia London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018

Kelly Zwicker




"Re:ne(w) by René Garza is founded on the concept that resource sustainability is the responsibility of every individual - being conscious of both our actions and their impact. The Elephantasia Campaign aligns beautifully with our mission, as the conservation of animals is fundamental to the preservation of our planet." - Rene Garza (read bio here)



"We want to help bring awareness to the many issues surrounding and effecting elephants, such as being poached for their ivory tusks or losing large amounts of their habitats due to human expansion". - Rachel Allen


DRESS: RACHEL ALLEN (read bio here)
PINEAPPLE BAGS: C. NICOLE (read bio here)

Having visited Africa and India with my children and experienced elephants in freedom and captivity, this project is very close to my heart. To imagine a world for our children and grandchildren without elephants that are essentially legend is indeed sad." - C. Nicole


JUMPSUIT: RACHEL ALLEN (read bio here)




"Strong, gentle, elegant, graceful, and beautiful. Words thxcat describe elephants are synonymous with our label. We take inspiration from their kindness and wisdom to produce sustainable fashion for a world we must share with these magnificent animals and the natural world." -Gabriela Rose (read bio here).



"Elephants are sacred animals. When I arrived to United States from Belarus in 1994, I brought only one suitcase. One of the things inside was a natural stone elephant that I always believed was sacred and would protect me as long as I carried it. According to Buddhists, white elephants carry special significance. As a long time Rotarian, educator and fashion designer, I truly believe in doing things for a good cause. I believe it is our responsibility to spread the important message across the globe, how crucial it is to save elephants from killing." - Tatiana Shabelnik (read bio here)


"Elephant conservation is important to KROMAGNON because our brand is all about sustainability and preserving the environment. Elephants are an important part of nature and our ecosystem and must be protected." - Kristen Luong (read bio here)



"The brutal killing of these proud, majestic, and intelligent creatures on its own is enough to make this an important cause for me. To think about the reality that elephants could become extinct in my lifetime is crushing." - Melissa Hillas



"Dawnamatrix is inspired by the strength, boldness, and fragility of the natural world and presents an option for living boldly with sustainable haute couture.  Elephantasia has provided the platform to make a difference for these animals by raising awareness in a critical time. By respecting our shared past with the elephant, we ensure their future survival." - Dawna Mosto (read bio here)



"I saw some elephants at close proximity in Krugar national park last year, I enjoyed them. I'd like my grand children to have the same opportunity." - Amin Phillips (read bio here)



"It is important that we help to preserve this species, not only just for animal lovers but for cultural and environmental purposes. 'Human kind has not woven the web of life, We are but one thread within it, Whatever we do to the web, We do to ourselves, All things are bound together, All things connect.' The elephant is an extremely peaceful and intelligent creature and I am very proud to be apart of this process." - Kim Stevenson (read bio here)



"As a designer it is deeply fulfilling to be a part of Elephantasia, a project that gives us all the opportunity to actively make a positive impact in the conservation of our beautiful planet." - Talia Baker (read bio here)



"ANNAFORA designed The Empire jumpsuit, inspired by the grandeur of the elephant. This look aims to capture the robust textures and shape portrayed by an elephant´s body in a manner that regards the animal as a royal and powerful, as interpreted by the Asian and African societies who lived in close quarters with them." - Anna Fora (read bio here)


AUTONOMOUS (read bio here)



"It is very important that the number of people who adhere to conscious consumption increases in the world. Participating in this project is an opportunity to show that you can create beautiful clothes without sacrificing a fashion sense. This projects unite like-minded people and make us think about true values." - Free Mind (read bio here)


FREE MIND (read bio here)



"A world where Elephants can populate creates a balanced world for all living things. Once the human ego is ripped away we realize all creatures need each other. We are not one without the other." - Meredith Allen Kelly (read bio here)



"An elephant running, beautiful, wild, and free...I am really impressed by fashion used for the protection of elephants and all animals. It's admirable." - Alfonso Sanco (read bio here)



"We must live and let live the vast array of creatures that inhabit this beautiful green planet. Together, even the smallest of changes can make a big difference to endangered species. Awareness is step one in a continuous effort to save majestic beasts like the elephant." - Jamie Von Stratton (read bio here)


RENE GARZA (read bio here)



"Today, it is not enough to just create pretty campaigns and collections. As advocates of the arts, we have the responsibility to use the power of fashion branding and media to spread important messages. Today our message is to protect one of the most beautiful animals in the world- elephants which are crucial to the health of our global ecosystem and survival of our planet."  - Nazy Alvarez, Creative Director

FFC Elephantasia Welcome GraphicV1.jpg





Rachel Hester

We are excited to share this new interview with the founding team of FFC, conducted by our LFW SS18 venue partner for Elephantasia, Fashion Scout London.

" Activist fashion design group Fashion For Conservation present Elephantasia, a unique group that combines rights and conservation for animals with the fashion industry. Elephantasia creates unique couture interpretations of the elephant, bringing awareness to our LFW audience on the extremity of the poaching crisis. 

With the heartbreaking fact that 96 elephants are killed each day for their ivory, FFC wants to send vital messages to  Fashion Scout attendees about how important individual consumer choices matter to our world. We are intrigued by the concepts behind Elephantasia, and wanted to have a chat with the FFC team to find out more about their unique, artistic conservational project. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 10.36.47 PM.png


Elephantasia showcases 24 designers from 24 unique countries around the globe. Each have their own history of why they became a designer and what inspired them to be a part of this campaign. Find out here.  

As for how design became a part of our mission here at Fashion for Conservation (FFC), we suppose it was the world from which “one and a half” of our founders come…Nazanine Afshar is a creative director for major publications such as Vogue, Italian Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and Allure; Samantha Zwicker is a wildlife conservationist and executive director at the Peruvian Amazon based non-profit Hoja Nueva; and finally Ava J. Holmes, connecting both industries as a former producer for fashion weeks worldwide, wildlife enthusiast and current reality TV show wilderness survivalist with Discovery Channel.


"Today, it is not enough to just create pretty fashion campaigns and couture collections. As advocates of the arts, we have the responsibility to use the power of fashion branding and the available media outlets to spread important messages and to promote causes around the world that have a direct effect on the future of our planet!

Today, our message is preservation and protection of one of the most beautiful animals in the world: the majestic and beautiful elephant! Why? Because they are crucial to the health of our global ecosystem and the survival of our planet. 

On behalf of all my colleagues at the FFC, I wish to express how delighted we are to be present at London Fashion Week 2017." - Nazanine Afshar, Creative Director and Co-Founder



Yes. The industry is always changing it’s just that we now have to be more careful than ever as to how we allow change to happen. We see retail giants adopting fast fashion more and more into our culture which is not only wiping out the support for independent designers but wiping out entire species of wildlife on earth. Today, according to the IUCN REDLIST “nearly one-third of species are globally threatened or extinct.” Fashion is largely to blame. That is why we are here to help steer the industry towards being a part of the solution to its own problem. As participants—if you wear clothes at all—this is in fact all of our problem. 


It’s a hub of people passionate about innovation, a perfect petri dish for what we are trying to do here bridging the gap (or perhaps in a new way “minding” the gap) between fashion and each of our responsibility today to protect wildlife and the environment.  



“A world where every designer, every creative, and every creature like you and I that get to walk on this planet actually look out for each-other. The time to invest in the conservation of our shared home on earth—with our collective talent and individual fashion choice (buying from brands that also invest in conservation and sustainability)—is now. The urgency of conserving the earth now goes beyond cultural and wildlife preservation. Its basic human survival."  - Ava, Executive Producer and Co-Founder

FFC Elephantasia’s emphasis on encouraging ethical tourism and entertainment is only a small fraction of why they are working closely to make changes to the fashion industry; which has a direct impact on our planets future. Fast fashion is proving to be wiping out endangered species, minimalizing the beauty and culture we get to share globally. 

Elephants, being one of the most ancient animals to live, and being a huge part of African and Asian culture, it is crucial to share the growing importance of sustainability and using alternatives that save the world. 

Words by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins & Amber Whitaker 

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 1.03.32 AM.png

Stylist Feature: The Brand and Career of Lisa Vann

Rachel Hester

By Kelly Zwicker  

This week we recognize a dedicated and essential contributor to the Fashion for Conservation team, Lisa Vann. Lisa originally joined Seattle's Marketplace Salon in 1987, and she's been a staple in Seattle's hair and beauty community ever since. For almost 30 years, Lisa has been developing her brand and constantly collaborating with other talented artists. 

Vann Edge, located on 1st avenue in Downtown Seattle, is currently directed by Lisa, being one of Aveda's key educators. Aveda is an environmentally conscious hair and skincare brand that is based on the concept of holistic beauty. When asked about the quality and integrity of Aveda as a brand, Lisa touched on how the production and sourcing of ingredients set a high professional standard in the industry. "Aveda uses natural organic pure plant and flower ingredients in the product" she says, "maximizing performance and carrying an amazing aroma."

Lisa has built a strong client base, and has even travelled the world as an Aveda educator and international editorial stylist. Lisa is dedicated to supporting both domestic and International fashion weeks. She also attends "Style Night" with local Seattle lifestyle magazine Ville Magazine, gains recognition through Northwest hairstyling awards, and organizes and orchestrates tutorials for upcoming generations of hairstylists across the U.S and Canada. She continues to collaborate with hair industry and fashion magazines, industry trade shows, and additional local industry leads that come her way. 

Designer: Shriti Pratap  Stylist: Lisa Vann  Photographer: James Cheng

Designer: Shriti Pratap

Stylist: Lisa Vann

Photographer: James Cheng

Stylist: Lisa Vann  Photographer: James Cheng

Stylist: Lisa Vann

Photographer: James Cheng

Designer: Shriti Pratap  Stylist: Lisa Vann  Photographer: James Cheng

Designer: Shriti Pratap

Stylist: Lisa Vann

Photographer: James Cheng

Lisa is very proud of her role and direction with Vann Edge Salon, which she is known for in the downtown Seattle community. The salon's energy and quality customer service keeps her inspired. "We are extremely fashion focused in what we do with our guests" she says.  The salon's mantra is "Every Guest Every time." Vann Edge, being a small avante-garde salon, upholds a sense of fashion forwardness that the Vann Edge team is happy to have their guests experience. Vann Edge consistently hosts and collaborates with editorial shoots for Seattle Fashion Week.

When asked about her Spring and Summer projects, Lisa is elated to see the presence of textured hair down the runway. Lisa comments on how women walking down the runway will have their natural hair featured, and even exaggerated and heightened with products such as Aveda's Texture Tonic.

As far as her longterm partnership with Fashion for Conservation (FFC) and its Elephantasia campaign, it all started with a meeting between Lisa and FFC founder Ava Holmes, in a small coffee shop just to brainstorm ideas. The concept of merging fashion and conservation was initially appealing to Lisa. "Philanthropy through the arts has always been something I love to engage in" she says, "especially if it's to protect these majestic creatures. I am a cause and effect women, I love to see change." Lisa has been drawn to the creative energy of the FFC team ever since. 

Given that Elephantasia will feature in London Fashion Week, Lisa has her vision for fashion and conservation in the future. "My vision would be that this is a platform to continue to bring awareness to my industry"  Lisa claims, "So much of the fashion industry is based off labels and profit, whereas Elephantasia could be the face of sustainability within the industry."

Lisa feels a certain responsibility within the fashion community to promote not only her team and Aveda's products, but the cause for conservation as a greater picture. She wants to stand for conservation through her efforts within the industry, because sustainable fashion could have an amazing future. The more that hairstylists, designers, models, and any individuals in this industry get involved and promote this branch of fashion, the more opportunity it has to succeed. 

We look forward to upcoming projects with Lisa Vann and so many other individuals to make Fashion For Conservation prosper within the Fashion world, and continue spreading crucial awareness. 

Lisa Vann:


Vann Edge Salon:




Influencer Acknowledgements: Online Contributors to Fashion for Conservation

Rachel Hester

By Kelly Zwicker 

This week we are recognizing the creative influencers that have helped spread the word about Fashion for Conservation's efforts and events. 

Diana Horsfall, a social media content influencer, has been blogging about street style fashion on her personal blog, as well as being an administrator for IFBK Seoul (International Fashion Bloggers in Korea). She also takes on the roles of editor-in-chief and creative director. Diana now resides in Northern California, where she plans to work her way into the fashion industry and be both a designer and showroom owner.

Diana wrote a lovely post about our efforts to help elephants a on an international scale. She always wants to get involved in partnerships that inspire good, and believes that animals are often at the expense of humans, and there needs to be more education as to how we can support conservation. 

Pictured: Diana Horsfall

Pictured: Diana Horsfall

Kaila Yu runs Nylon Pink TV, a travel and lifestyle magazine. She writes about amazing destinations around the world and about the incredible cultures that she encounters. Nylon Pink TV also touches upon the topics of women empowerment and beauty. Kaila wrote a piece about Fashion for Conservation's aim to stop the selling of elephant ivory, with the help of more widespread and international coverage from partnerships with the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Vogue. 

Kaila is passionate about spreading awareness of the current issue of elephants possibly becoming instinct. She encourages the new generation to be more aware of the ivory market and that it us our responsibility to protect them from this fate. 

Pictured: Kaila Yu

Pictured: Kaila Yu

Olivia Fleming, known for her elegant blog The Indie Girl, is very passionate about promoting female strength, ever since her traumatic brain injury in 2015. Both businesswoman and entrepreneur, Olivia has a timeless style and brings a modern contribution to social media with her eye for detail. Her mantra being "fashionably fearless," Olivia's bright spirit comes through her style posts and editorials. Olivia made an excellent point about fashion having the ability to "pollute or progress" our modern lifestyles, in her blog post featuring Fashion for Conservation's Elephantasia campaign. 

Olivia's blog piece on Elephantasia is insightful due to her insistence that the fashion industry, as vast and as influential as it is, be more ethical and environmentally conscious. She makes the claim that so many companies, actually the heavy majority, focus on the net worth, employment, and simply the money as first priority. With Olivia's outlook, imagine if the heavy majority of fashion companies eventually shifted to being environmentally conscious and sustainable. 

Pictured: Olivia Fleming 

Pictured: Olivia Fleming 

Special thanks to Sushmitha Gururaj, Samantha Hunter, Kreshma Nair, and Autumn Whewell for the features posted on their Instagram pages promoting the efforts of Fashion for Conservation.

Along with her background in biology, Sushmitha has her own fashion and lifestyle blog dedicated to her daily life, style, and travels. She is inspired by her early travel memories visiting the Pinnawala elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka. It deeply saddened her that the elephants had experienced such cruelty prior to the safety of the orphanage. That experience has made her that much more involved in participating in concepts such as sustainable fashion. 

Pictured: Sushmitha Gururaj

Pictured: Sushmitha Gururaj

Samantha is a fitness fashion guru promoting health and wellness. Based out of San Diego, Samantha promotes fitness fashion and incorporates a healthy living lifestyle in to her daily life. 

Pictured: Samantha Hunter 

Pictured: Samantha Hunter 

Kreshma Nair is a stylist and consultant, and currently has a style blog on all things fashion. She wrote a heartfelt shoutout on her Instagram spreading awareness regarding the slaughter of elephants, and promoting education to fight for the survival of the elephant family. 

The fact that approximately 35,000 elephants are killed each year is very heard on Kreshma's heart. She is very inspired and supportive of Elephantasia bringing conservation to couture, and has encouraged her followers to spread awareness of the cause as well. 

Pictured: Kreshma Nair 

Pictured: Kreshma Nair 

Autumn Whewell is an MBA student as well as style blogger. She is an advocate for female empowerment through personal style. She writes product reviews, event coverage, and even discusses travel advice with her readers. She is a fan of the modern female fashion look, with an edge. Autumn posted a photo done by James Cheng for a peek into Elephantasia's upcoming appearance in London Fashion Week SS18. 

Autumn encourages the Elephantasia line being produced from plant-based dyes, organic cotton, and recycled materials. Autumn is a very passionate animal lover and notes that her family is making the switch to veganism. She is now much more conscious of not wearing animal products in her fashion and going for cruelty free options. Her collaboration with Fashion for Conservation could not have come at a more applicable time in her life. 

Pictured: Autumn Whewell 

Pictured: Autumn Whewell 

Contributor information/social media:

Diana Horsfall:

Website feature:

Instagram: @queenhorsfall

Kaila Yu:

Website feature:

Instagram: @kailayu

Olivia Fleming:

Website feature:

Instagram: @theindiegirlblog

Sushmitha Gururaj

Instagram: @missminussized

Samantha Hunter


 Kreshma Nair

Instagram: @melangefundaes

 Autumn Whewell

Website feature: 

Instagram: @autumnwhewell




Ibiza Recap: Opening Night of Elephantasia at Atzaro Fashion Festival

Rachel Hester

By Melissa Hills (GYPSETGIRL)
Photo Credit: La Skimal & David Corral

Elephant conservation has always been near and dear to my heart. How could it not be? These majestic and intelligent creatures are so special and nurturing and a lot like human beings. More like humans than most understand. Did you know that elephants have memories like human beings? Elephants actually visit the graves of their dead family members just like humans do. They remember the happy experiences, as well the heartbreaking tragedies they endure. Like for example the witnessing of the slaughter of their herd/family members for their tusks by greedy poachers. These beautiful giants carry these haunting and brutal memories with them for a lifetime. It is a tragedy that any living creature would be subjected to this. Did you know that if it isn't stopped now, elephants will be extinct in our lifetime? This fact is crushing to me. 

So when Fashion for Conservation invited me to create a dress for Elephantasia and for my brand GYPSETGIRL to join them in their crusade to spread awareness and raise money for elephant conservation, I jumped at the chance.

Elephantasia Design by Mellissa Hillas, blogger and designer behind GYPSETGIRL

Elephantasia Design by Mellissa Hillas, blogger and designer behind GYPSETGIRL

The launch of this seasons Elephantasia showcase was in Ibiza on July 18th at the Atzaró Fashion Festival 2017. It was a magical evening, full of uber bohemian style, a fabulous fashion show, pop-up-shops and most importantly recognition of the plight of African elephants.

Elephantasia design by Shriti Pratap

Elephantasia design by Shriti Pratap

There's so much to share, I don't even know where to start! The night began with the arrival of the 2000 breathtaking international glitterati that some like myself, came all the way to Ibiza just for this extraordinary event. The cocktails flowed as people walked and danced around the property exploring the amazing food to sample and the boho-luxe wares each vendor had to offer their enthusiastic buyers.

As the sun set, drawing a kaleidoscope of pink and orange in the sky the show began to the sound of a flute with what seemed like pixies coming from out of a forest. I was soon to discover that these "pixies' are some of the gorgeous members of the internationally known World Family Ibiza. A nomadic group of glamorous gypsies who travel the world to design and sell their incredible fashion collections (I couldn't resist taking a few of their colorful and luxurious pieces back home with me.).

As the World Family Ibiza members left the runway, their designs soon followed in colors and textures that took my breath away!

The most amazing part of the show for me of course, was seeing all of the mega-talented designers looks that were all elephant inspired for Elephantasia. They were very unique in style, striking and exceptional in their own right. I truly can say that as I watched each look come down the runway, I really loved how through fabric and design each piece embraced the spirit of the African elephant in such an artistic way.

Elephantasia Design by FREE MIND

Elephantasia Design by FREE MIND

Elephantasia Design by Autonomous Collection

Elephantasia Design by Autonomous Collection

Look 1, 2. Shriti Pratap
Look 3. Gypset X Vismaya
Look 4. Kromagnon
Look 5. Phrophetik
Look 6.
Look 8. Meredith Allen Kelly
Look 9. C. Nicole
Look 10. C. Nicole
Look 11. C. Nicole
Look 12. Free Mind
Look 13. Autonomous

Fashion for Conservation Co-Founder Ava J. Holmes thanking the audience for an Elephantastic opening night!

Fashion for Conservation Co-Founder Ava J. Holmes thanking the audience for an Elephantastic opening night!

Closing this absolutely fantastic show was the legendary Scottish designer Pam Hogg. Known for her eclectic designs, Hogg has dressed rock stars and celebrities alike, including Blondie, the Cult and Naomi Campbell. Her newest collection did not disappoint any of us expecting to see all of the edgy vibe that drips from her designs.

What an amazing experience the whole evening was! I feel so privileged to have had this opportunity and to be included with so many other designers that I find so inspiring. I hope that you feel inspired as well. We all share this planet together, even though in some cases our countries have borders that are separated by oceans. Nonetheless, we all need the elephants to keep this world turning. African and Asian alike, and they need us to save their lives.

So please do what you can to help support Fashion for Conservation and all the organizations working to prevent extinction and to save all the worlds beautiful and much needed creatures.


Photographer Feature: Gowri Varanashi

Rachel Hester

By Kelly Zwicker 

Hi everyone, 

This week we are celebrating another international photographer with a passion for capturing the beautiful elephant family. Her name is Gowri Varanashi. Gowri is based out of Bangalore, India, and she is an avid adventurer and environmentalist. 

Gowri's love of photography began when she would borrow her father's Pentax film camera as a young girl. She would take it on school trips and practice her photography skills, and her father would mentor her on how to improve. Photography allows Gowri to share what she sees through her lens with other people, which she loves to do because she is able to increase public awareness of the wildlife she photographs. "In the conservation field, this is even more important" she says, "because those of us that work in the field, on the front lines of these issues, need to be able to show the world what is happening to these species and ecosystems and cultures." Gowri finds photography to be a powerful way of communicating, or in other words, meaningful visual storytelling. 

Pictured: Paul Rosolie , PC: Gowri Varanashi

Pictured: Paul Rosolie , PC: Gowri Varanashi

PC: Gowri Varanashi

PC: Gowri Varanashi

A major theme of Gowri's biography is her desire to adventure. Gowri feels a constant pull to adventure at all times, and claims it brings her out to nature and the outdoors more frequently. "It’s what awakens me from the monotony of everyday life, which enables me to have a happy, healthy state of mind," she says. Gowri has learned from her adventures, and through the lens, that there is always more to learn about the world and the beautiful creatures it holds. 

Speaking of those creatures, one of Gowri's fondest memories is of an amusing interaction she had with an elephant. She and her husband were with a forest ranger in one of India's national parks when the ranger spotted an elephant. The elephant was in fact right next to them on the dirt road, completely silent and stopped in its tracks. "We realized the elephant was in fact right next to us off the road," Gowri recalls, "mostly hidden by bushes but a large patch of its grey, wrinkled skin was visible in the center. I can never forget it." It was a waiting game of who was going to move first, but Gowri and her husband were loving just being in the elephant's presence. 

Gowri likes to consistently photograph Indian elephants. "As a photographer, an elephant is captivating because it’s like shooting a mountain range" she says, "a sentient landscape." A major reason Gowri feels closer to this particular species is because she was raised in India. She grew up witnessing their place in the wild, chewing vegetation and moving seeds through the ecosystem. They are such pillars to the growth of ecosystems, practically builders of the forests in Africa and India, keystone species that protect and enhance wildlife habitat. 

PC: Gowri Varanashi

PC: Gowri Varanashi

The initiative to combine fashion and conservation is exciting for Gowri, given her past feelings of how fashion has taken advantage of wildlife in a negative way. "Black caiman (an important Amazonian apex-predator) almost became extinct because of the demand for their hides in the 50’s and 60’s" she recalls, "Then of course there is the ongoing battle with fur products and black markets." There has definitely been animal abuse in the fashion industry in the past, and sustainable practices are essential to not repeat history. 

"To bring conservation and fashion together is really unique because it’s a very unexpected partnership" Gowri says, "and it continues the super-sheik tradition that Peter Beard started a few decades ago." 

Gowri recognizes the global need to keep elephants walking this earth, as well as their sentience. Elephants are indeed incredibly intelligent and emotionally driven. "They are also the largest terrestrial species on our planet" she adds, "I can't imagine a world without elephants."

When Gowri was asked what she wants to see most in the animal conservation movement, she wants people to stop creating such a bold separation between humans and nature. People do not often accept that animals are highly intelligent. Gowri recited a quote from Einstein: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree….” This quote is a powerful message to humans. We need to understand that we do not have a right over other animal species. They walk this earth with as much purpose as we do, just in a completely different way. 

PC: Gowri Varanashi

PC: Gowri Varanashi

And we shouldn't have to. With more individuals like Gowri to spread awareness and outwardly promote the importance and beauty of the elephant family, we have strength in numbers to not let these creatures be led to extinction. We must not have a limited mindset; we must create empathy and protect other species because each one is inherently valuable.

For more updates on future features and the efforts of Fashion for Conservation, please follow along with our blog here, as well as on our social media accounts and Facebook page! Merchandise purchases to support the cause and our current campaign Elephantasia are available on our website as well. 

Thanks for reading! xx

Gowri's pages and information:
Instagram: @gowrivaranashi and @gowri_varanashi
Staff bio for Tamandua Expeditions:

The Fashion for Conservation Team