Livia Firth is my favorite person to watch on the red carpet. She doesn't get as much attention as Sandra, Jennifer, Cate, or Julia, and she isn't ever one of the nominees herself. She is rarely interviewed on the E channel on the red carpet before awards shows, but she always makes the most important fashion statement of the night. If they ever DO ask her "Who are you wearing," the answer is the result of a year's worth of work carefully examining not only the style, but the ethics of the designers she considers. I've never met her, but back when only a handful of people were talking on the world stage about ethical fashion, she was using her celebrity to showcase the issue. From the Golden Globes and Academy Awards to the Met Ball and Cannes Film Festival, she has taken every opportunity to wear ethically produced fashion in a very public way. In addition to bringing attention to designers who are on the forefront of fashion sustainability, she has collaborated with design houses all around the world to bring fashion ethics to high fashion. Along with her bustiness partner Lucy Siegle, through her Green Carpet Challenge, or GCC, she has challenged people to think differently about what they wear and to take a stand on what they believe about how fashion should be made.
The Green Carpet Challenge started out mainly as a blog written by Livia to document her experience as she weeded through the various ethical fashion options for red carpet dresses from various designers. It has developed into an organization that works directly with brands to develop their supply chain transparency and sustainable credentials, either across the board or with a specific product focus.
In 2011, Livia wore an up-cycled gown designed by Gary Harvey. Harvey is from South East London and is the former creative director of Levis Strauss. He began designing himself when he needed a dramatic piece for a jeans shoot and ended up using 42 pairs of Levi 501s to create a dress. Then he became the king of reuse. The eleven dresses he used to create Livia's were gathered from vintage, thrift and charity stores in South East London that dated from the era of The King's Speech, in honor of her husband Colin's Oscar nomination for best actor. Although I love love the idea of up-cycling, I DO have to hope that the dresses he used were either very flawed, to the point of being not wearable. The idea of destroying 11 wearable vintage gowns to create one is truly horrifying to me. Vintage is the easiest, most affordable way to wear sustainable fashion so I think it should be honored in its own right as an ethical option.
The GCC has also been a sort of "challenge" to other celebrities to embrace the green fashion lifestyle and as you can see, Livia proves time and time again that you don't have to sacrifice style for ethics . In 2012, she wore this stunning red bespoke Valentino gown created from a blend of silk and recycled PET plastic. She accessorized the gown with sustainably sourced pink diamond jewelry by Calleijia.
“The resulting gown absolutely appeals to the romantic side of my nature, but has that high sheen that the red carpet demands,” she said in her Eco-Age blog..
Eco Age has branched out into other projects that are continuing to bring attention to the need to "do fashion differently." In September of 2012, The Green Carpet Challenge introduced The Green Cut - celebrating the very best of fashion, film and sustainability. In collaboration with the British Fashion Council and British Film Institute, the initiative pairs eight fashion designers with eight iconic British films to raise awareness of a sustainable approach to fashion design by presenting clothing that offers a modern take on a classic film.
In March, 2013, Livia Firth and the Green Carpet Challenge partnered with Gucci, the Rainforest Alliance and The National Wildlife federation to create a line of luxury handbags made from anti-deforestation leather. Designed by Gucci’s Creative Director Frida Giannini, the range is the first step in enhancing complete transparency and proving sustainability in the fashion industry is indeed, very possible.
In September, 2013, Livia Firth partnered with NET-A-PORTER.COM, to create exclusive collections featuring five British designers. Christopher Bailey, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Kane, Erdem, and Roland Mouret. Each of these designers embraced sustainable style when they designied two pieces each, in accordance with the Green Carpet Challenge's ethical bench-marking.
So, thank you Livia and Lucy for starting the Green Carpet Challenge and for making ethical fashion the best trend of all. I hope that we can all accept the challenge to care about what we wear, who made it and how it affects the world we live in.
If you are interested in learning more about the work that Livia and her partners are doing in the fashion world, visit the Eco Age website. Take a look at the following video from EcoAge and, ...I challenge YOU to learn more about why fashion ethics really do matter.