Global Green Room Interview: Oliver Tolentino

Oliver with Nadine Weil in one of his dresses. (Photo: Drew) Eco fashion has come a long way in recent years and designers are now offering just-as-good and better alternatives to clothing made with materials, dyes, and manufacturing processes that are harmful to the environment. A favorite eco designer of Global Green is Oliver Tolentino, who wowed us with his collection of stunning gowns made from sustainable fabrics at our Gorgeous & Green gala last year, where he also also dressed our event co-chair Nadine Weil in a green dress (pictured). Next up, the Los Angeles-based designer from the Philippines will be helping to add a gorgeous element to our Pre-Oscar Party this month, outfitting actresses and models at the event. Here, he answers questions for our Global Green Room Interview.

What would surprise us about your work?

For some of my clothes, I use fabric made from the fiber of pineapple leaves (in the Philippines, we call it piña), abaca (Manila hemp), Philippine silk, and waterlily. Many of these fabrics are dyed naturally with things such as coconut husk and specific seeds and nuts.

Who is your hero?

My personal hero is my mother because she was kind of a renaissance woman and she helped bring water to the people in my province (Bataan) through drainage ditches along the road. This ended up helping so many impoverished people be able to farm and earn a living.

What has been your greatest success?

Being able to be a fashion designer. Doing what you love as your vocation is one of life's great successes.

What has been your biggest failure or challenge?

A designer's challenge is always to create something that the person for whom you're making it will like. Specifically with eco fashion, the challenge is to make something that is not a sacrifice to wear. I think some of the looks I'm creating out of these eco fabrics produce dresses where the eco part is not the focus. It's a nice dress that just happens to be "green," whereas a lot of eco fashion is the opposite. I want people to really want to wear my outfits because they like them and not just because they feel they need to.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

I wish I could remove all the plastics and non-biodegradable things in landfills and oceans and have them recycled into new products.