Kind of blue

Every kid has a favourite colour. I find it endearing when adults reveal that they still retain their loyalty to their old favourite hue. I take it as a sign that they can still access childlike wonder in the five senses, in what is elemental.

Kathleen O’Grady’s favourite colour is blue. Blue as in water. Kathleen is a clothing designer who uses blue-dyed textiles in her line called Grady Bleu (yes, spelled the French way). I met her at a World Water Day lecture a few weeks ago, and she explained that her interest in indigo and other traditional dyes was connected to her desire for a sustainable water future on this blue planet.

Natural dyes have been used for generations all over the world. The techniques are kept alive in villages in many developing countries and Kathleen says supporting these cottage industries helps provide a sustainable livelihood to artisans, and it offers an alternative to the mass-produced, high-profit-low-pay globalized textile industry.

Relative to synthetics, natural dyes also have a low impact on the environment — particularly water. Grady Bleu is a “labour of love” project that allows the artist to work with beautiful, low-impact textiles while simultaneously raising awareness about water sustainability, the issue, she says, that will define the 21rst century.

To follow Kathleen’s story further, and to find out more about her clothing line, visit

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