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In the midst of Oscar week, indigenous women, environmental activists and fashion changemakers were the stars of the show at Thursday night’s Green Carpet Fashion Awards (GCFA), which was held for the first time in Los Angeles at NeueHouse Hollywood.
Led by Livia Giuggioli Firth (who re-wore a vintage black Alexander McQueen dress), founder of the Italy-based sustainability and communications consultancy Eco Age, the starry celebration honored environmental and social sustainability in fashion, entertainment and beyond.
Optimism was the driving force of the evening, starting with the vibrant LCD screen “carpet” displaying blooming botanical videos (designed by Stefan Beckman) that welcomed guests. (GCFA’s new West Coast location narrowly missed the downpour that has dampened L.A. in recent weeks.)
“We’re living in a time of great challenges,” said Firth in her opening remarks, delivered with Ugandan environmental activist Vanessa Nakate and actor Taylor Zakhar Perez. Continued Nakate, “the fashion and entertainment industries are contributing to the climate crisis. But together, we have the power to turn this around. It is not fashionable if it creates exclusion, poverty, exploitative labor, displacement, pollution or it increases carbon emissions. Tonight, you will meet phenomenal catalysts of change representing the architects of the global, social and environmental justice movement.”
GCFA co-chair Cate Blanchett, who has been promoting sustainability this entire awards season by rewearing previously worn red-carpet clothes, last night wore a custom mint Valentino suit crafted from archival and deadstock fabric. (She was styled by Elizabeth Stewart).
Additional co-chairs in attendance were Tom Ford (who revealed the winners of his Plastic Innovation Prize last night), Simu Liu and Quannah Chasinghorse, plus GCFA 2023 board members Amber Valletta, Christopher Bevans, Bethann Hardison and Tonne Goodman.
The event, featuring a vegan menu, also drew presenters Leonardo DiCaprio (who made a surprise appearance), Annie Lennox, Jodie Turner-Smith and mother-daughter duo Jerry Hall and Georgia May Jagger; honorees Alicia Silverstone (who wore a made-to-order faux leather trench coat by Zaffori), Chloé creative director Gabriela Hearst and British Vogue‘s Edward Enninful; and guests including Naomi Campbell (who came straight from the Versace show), Hire Survivors Hollywood founder and She Said actor Sarah Ann Masse, Heidi Klum and Tobey Maguire. (Missing from the night were GCFA co-chairs Simone Ashley, Viola Davis and Salma Hayek.)
Bespoke dandelion brooches — a nod to Noble Peace Prize poet laureate Daisaku Ikeda — created by Shiffon Co. using Lucara Diamond’s ethically-sourced gems were given for six recognitions: the Healer (Brazil’s Minister for Indigenous People Sônia Guajajara), the Visionary (Ford), the Messenger (Vivienne Westwood creative director Andreas Kronthaler), the Integrity Honour (Silverstone), the Rebel (Unless Collective co-founders Eric Liedtke and Tara Moss), the Futurist (Gucci), and the Sage (Hearst).
Before presenting the Healer award to Guajajara, DiCaprio noted, “The stewards of [the Amazon] are without question its indigenous defenders. Not only is [it] one of the most important places for wildlife, it is also key to sustaining life, far beyond its borders, helping to drive, both global water cycles and weather patterns that affect rainfall — even here in California.”
Speaking in her native Portuguese through an interpreter, Guajajara told the crowd, “The struggle [is] not only mine, but of the defenders of the forest, animals, life and the planet earth. The struggle has not been easy. Many indigenous leaders and environmentalists are losing their lives daily. Indigenous peoples represent only five percent of the world’s population, but together, we protect 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity.”
“The truth is like all of you in this room, I cannot stand by while the planet is slowly coated in a thin oily film of plastic to be inherited by our children and in fact generations to come,” Ford said while accepting his Visionary award. The filmmaker-designer teamed with the nonprofit Lonely Whale to launch his Plastic Innovation Prize, and he announced the three winners at the event: U.S.-based Sway (for its regenerative seaweed-based material), India-based Zerocircle (which creates ocean- and animal-safe packaging from seaweed) and London-based startup Notpla (which also uses macroalgae for a plastic alternative).
Cora Corré, the granddaughter of the late Vivienne Westwood, accepted the Messenger award on behalf of her grandfather Andreas Kronthaler. “Whilst we sit at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, we must recognize that many of us sit here today in a place of privilege,” she after calling out the UK’s Illegal Migration Bill.
In one of the most moving speeches of the night, she told the crowd that if the bill were to become a law, “any human being who arrives the UK on a small boat seeking asylum from war, torture, persecution, famine, [could] actually criminalized and deported by the home secretary back to where they came from, or potentially to Rwanda, a country not famed for its record on human rights. [It] would not only be against the European convention on human rights, but also against international law. Those seeking safety and protection coming from countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Iran, Sudan or Afghanistan, that currently make up the biggest group of asylum seekers to the U.K. by nationality, fleeing the cruelty and retribution of the Taliban, but unable to emigrate legally or safely through the scandalous failures of both the British and American governmental schemes.”
She continued: “That privilege is power, that power is a voice … Privilege should not be taken lightly. It should be utilized to shed light on issues, crucial to our collective moral compass. To show compassion to fellow human beings rather than the detachment created through the luxury of our own safety and warmth in our own home often taken for granted whilst many go to sleep fearing for their very survival and existence, We must remember that, what underpins all of this is the belief that we are separate and that we bear no responsibility to one another. And the idea that we’re disconnected from people, if they are far away from us. Our principles must remain consistent or they are not principles at all.”
Young Leader award recipient Helena Gualinga — who was one of 14 women recognized for their work in civil rights, social justice, global feminism and environmental activism — drew one of the loudest cheers from the crowd.
“I can tell you one thing: that there would be nothing left without indigenous women,” said Gualinga, an Ecuadorian human rights and environmental activist. “Indigenous women need to be at the center, at the forefront of every single decision-maker so that we can make sure that the Amazon rainforest is protected, so we can make sure that we can fight climate change so that we can make sure that our forest and ecosystem and that the world is protected. And you need to do your work to show up for indigenous people, to show up for indigenous women in a real and intentional way so that we can secure and guarantee the lives and the rights of indigenous women.”
Other GCFA Young Leader award recipients included co-chair Chasingorse, Nalleli Cobo, Wawa Gatheru, Vee Kathivu, Sophia Kianni, Vanessa Nakate, Mary Maker, Leah Thomas, Diandra Marizet, Aditi Mayer, Dominique Palmer, Maya Penn and Tori Tsui.
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