Models stalked the runway in designer clothes made from fermented corn sugar Thursday in a fashion show held at an international biotech conference in Toronto in an attempt to “make green sexy.”
The one-of-a-kind outfits created by big name designers Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Elisa Jimenez and others included a strapless beige ball gown, a cream baby-doll dress with ribbon and sheer overlay, and a pink and yellow taffeta skirt with a silver recycled polyester bustier.
“There are three steps to get from the corn sugar to the polymer, which is used to make clothing,” Christopher Ryan, chief technology officer of Natureworks LLC, the maker of the ”biobased” fiber, said after the fashion show at the World Congress on Industrial and Biotechnology and Bioprocessing.
“First, the sugar is fermented into lactic acid, then that is converted into lactide,” Ryan said. “Then lactide is converted into PLA, or polymer. It takes a matter of hours, but longer than that to get through our plant.”
PLA polymer is most commonly used as a plastic in packaging for environmentally friendly products, but can also be used as a versatile fiber that can be made to have the appearance of silk, polyester, leather or elastic.
Natureworks, a subsidiary of U.S.-based agribusiness giant Cargill Inc., has branded its PLA fiber as Ingeo, and is the first company to use biodegradable polymers produced from renewable resources for commercial products.
Other items on display at the fashion show included a men’s transparent dress shirt, a hooded pink floral fleece sweater, a blue blazer and a strapless black dress.