by Patti DeSante

Eco Fashion Week Australia 2017 runway photos by Harry Leonard Images

“The goal of  EFWA was to ignite and inspire attendees to change their perspective on fashion. Rallying against the notion that Eco fashion is all hemp and granola, EFWA presented only the most creative, artistic and beautiful sustainable designs.”

Straight up!!! Mr Hiroaki Tanaka of Studio Membrane (center) embodied this intention of EFWA2017 and then BLEW IT UP!

Straight up!!! Mr Hiroaki Tanaka of Studio Membrane (center) embodied this intention of EFWA2017 and then BLEW IT UP!

In Japanese Zen tradition, there is the mantra from the Heart Sutra that I feel compelled to share that relates closely to Mr. Tanaka’s design ethic.

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha…Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Utterly Gone Beyond...Awaken.


Just prior to Mr. Tanaka accompanying aboriginal leaders into the Australian bush to learn and gather natural elements that he used in creating the final look in his collection at EFWA 2017 entitled, “Useless Beauty, ” I had the privilege of sitting with and exploring how this humble man, who bows to me in greeting, understands and perceives how “Everything in life can be infused into fashion design.”

The overall consensus amongst most sustainable designers is that a radical reassessment of the human situation is needed. For Mr Hiroaki, the clothes we wear represent the philosophy or consciousness of the person wearing them.

Similar to the Zen Buddhist text, “The Tenzo Kyokun,” or its English translation equivalent,”Instructions to the Cook,” what we choose to adorn ourselves tells as much about us, as what we eat and how we go about preparing our food. Both the practice of clothing and feeding ourselves are fundamental to us as human beings, and can either be devotional or destructive to planet and community well-being.

Zuhal Kuvan Mills of Green Embassy and Founder of EFWA and Mr. Tanaka preparing the final piece.

Zuhal Kuvan Mills of Green Embassy and Founder of EFWA and Mr. Tanaka preparing the final piece.

Both practices challenge us to go beyond the energetic of instant gratification that defines our current, "Fashion Minding."  Eco-fashion demands that we develop a level of intimacy with all aspects of the fashion chain. It requires the elegance, and steadfastness associated with a membrane whose role is to separate and facilitate communication between two worlds with effortlessness and power.

I had prepared numerous questions based on Marilyn Wilson’s interview with Tanaka. I am eager to understand this man’s fashion mind, but without a translator, our communication through language was restricted. We smiled warmly at each other with soft eyes and found another way.

Three questions did land and offered us an intimacy of genuine communication that is rarely experienced even when two people speak the same language.


What does it mean to you to be a human being?

It is what I am wearing now. I am wearing my mind. All of what I wear consists of my identity.


What membrane are you wearing right now that connects your body with your humanity and truth?

"My glasses." He spoke about how the actual physical distance between two human beings plays a role in how we see and judge each other. When you see his glasses from a distance they look circular and simple in the construct. Closing the distance between us and the circle transforms into a sharp-edged octagonal form. A human being is both simple and complex. The closer we get to an object, the object becomes subject and the details reveal and I and thou. Everything in life is in the details.


When someone dies what do you think happens?

(He gets his translator out on his phone. He really wants clarity. This is the exact translation.)

“The body vibrates...take over the vibration from and influence others and meet with vibration...when vibration stops we physically die. However, the vibrations propagate other people living.”

This membrane of ordinary/extraordinary clothing offers us a living narrative of our life both on a micro and macro level as evidenced by the response to the first two questions. How we express our life through our ongoing relationship with what we wear further has the power to generationally connect us on a vibrational frequency that is infinite in its power to influence our personal and planetary evolutionary story.


"The very commonness of everyday things harbours the eternal marvel and silent mystery of God.” - Karl Rahner

The guttural sound of the didgeridoo, aboriginal dancers, chanters and cosmic storytellers led and suspended the audience in a runway opening that connected us to the sounds and stories of the universe both birthing itself as it birthed Studio Membrane’s, "Useless Beauty."

“It was out of the dynamic of cosmic celebration that we were created in the first place. We are to become celebration and generosity, burst into self-awareness. What is the human? The human is a space, an opening, where the universe celebrates its existence.” ― Brian Swimme, The Universe Is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story


The celebrations begins... Each model's steps mirrored an evolutionary moment of humanities' shared cosmology.
<em>From the initial purity and freedom offered in all beginnings, the pieces are flowing and open and free of any stitches or potential the body-hugging and colour diversity, symbolically mirroring evolution’s progression to individuation and differentiation that ultimately enable us as humans to gaze back on ourselves.







From the sensuous expression of flow and further differentiation... shared essences of humanity; fertility, passion, fullness and emptiness.






From cultural diversity to the pure ground sourcing all diversity...




 emptiness as the source of all creativity...


EFWA RUNWAY DAY 2_ STUDIO MEMBRANE-1079.jpg the final pieces that offered us the highest level of humanity’s woven integrated expression centred and flowing from one heart.


There was so much depth to this fashion offering that it could truly become the foundation of a PHD thesis.

One Love is the only way to complete this fashion truth. It offered us a narrative of how things came to be, how they came to be as they are, and how the future can offer us direction where
diversity is woven as grace and love. We need clothes that will educate us, that will heal us and guide us.

You can see Studio Membrane's runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia HERE