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Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge is an ongoing commitment to championing the beauty of wearing sustainable brands on red carpets. Now, the initiative — which has worked over the years with such stars as Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o and Viola Davis — is releasing the GCC Style Handbook in an effort to make sustainable dressing and styling as seamless as possible.
Geared toward Hollywood stylists and stars, the guide promotes four distinct avenues toward achieving environmentally conscious outfits: artisanal (looks from small businesses and local makers); bespoke (custom apparel that uses eco-friendly materials); vintage choices; and the re-wearing of dresses.
The guide can be found at greencarpetchallenge.com and it includes celebrity examples on stars including Zendaya (rewear), Zoe Saldana (vintage) and Emma Watson, who participated in the Green Carpet Challenge at the Met Gala in 2016 wearing a Calvin Klein gown made from recycled plastic bottles.
“What the handbook does is explains how you can create a bespoke look from scratch, how you can walk the red carpet and talk about sustainability wearing a vintage piece. And it encourages talent to work with very small, independent designers that have small studios and work with community-based artisans,” Firth tells THR exclusively. “There is so much confusion today about what ‘sustainable’ is and I think it’s imperative that we break that down.”
Firth cites Cate Blanchett and Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, as major proponents of the re-wear approach, and notes that Angelina Jolie’s 16-year-old daughter, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, was seen on the red carpet for the U.K. Eternals premiere wearing a cropped version of a Dior dress her mother previously wore in its original full-length form.
The Green Carpet Challenge plans to give accreditations of “sustainable excellence” to stars who wear looks to a red carpet event that adhere to the handbook’s standards.
Among the resources in the GCC Style Handbook is a materials guide that includes details information and best practices surrounding the use of everything from silk, wool, leather and feathers (“any feathers should be considered on a case-by-case basis and full traceability is required” for certification) to man-made cellulosic fibers such as Lenzing Tencel. The latter material is recommended as it is “sourced from responsibly managed land causing zero deforestation, and [is] manufactured in a closed-loop process to continually re-use chemicals and water.”
Another approach to sustainability – buying and wearing vintage – is described in the handbook as being made as recently as the 1990s. “For us, vintage should make you feel a connection, and not just tick a style box…to qualify as vintage, a garment needs to fulfill a set of criteria: intrinsic quality (noble materials, impeccable cuts), a prestigious brand (haute couture, quality ready-to-wear), a style characteristic of an era (pop prints from the 1960s, jeans and wide pants from the 1970s).”
The guide also promotes re-wear; not just previously owned clothes, but walking the carpet in a previously seen outfit. This strategy “addresses waste and over production in fashion head on,” the handbook reads, adding: “While the stigma is slowly evaporating, rewearing was considered a taboo until fairly recently on the red carpet and at other major events…re-wearing a look from a previous event celebrates timeless heritage fashion, and sends a strong message that garments need to be kept and reused for a lifetime.”
In 2018, GCC team worked with Cate Blanchett’s styling partner, Elizabeth Stewart, for the actress’ appearance at Cannes. According to the handbook, Stewart said: “I think the stigma around re-wearing a dress is arbitrary and makes no sense. It’s a rule that will fade away like the ‘no white after Labor Day’ rule. We don’t visit the Louvre expecting a new masterpiece each time. True beauty and art endures.”
As the effects of human-induced climate change continue to mount, Firth, who founded the Green Carpet Challenge in 2010, wants the fashion industry to do even more to help create a more stable and livable planet. The GCC’s new guide, she hopes, will “remind stylists and talent about the power that they have to carry the sustainability conversation forward and be a messenger, because red carpets are the biggest communications platforms in the world. For the consumers who follow who wore what on the red carpet, the more we educate them, the more they will demand change from brands — and they will start shopping in a different way. It’s like a cascade effect.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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