Every Hollywood star knows that one of the most important parts of an awards ceremony is who you are wearing. Livia Firth, wife of Academy Award-winning actor Colin, wants the kind of fabric you are wearing to be just as essential.
Firth founded the Green Carpet Challenge in 2009, to influence top designers to rethink their fabric choices when designing fashions for the world’s biggest starts. The challenge encourages designers to consider ecologically friendly and socially responsible fabrics when creating their pieces.
“First of all, you want to wear something that is made with non-toxic materials and dyes and also that it’s made by people who are happy fundamentally,” Firth says. She herself has worn yarn made from recycled plastic bottles to the Golden Globes, material from repurposed thrift store finds for the Oscars and discarded fabric to meet Queen Elizabeth II.
With the Challenge now in its third year, Firth is on a mission to convince some of the biggest names in Hollywood to follow her lead, including designer and film director Tom Ford, Hollywood legend Meryl Streep and rising star Michael Fassbender. “A designer will create a gown for an actress anyway. So what we do is to work with the designers to switch the fabric to eco-alternatives,” Firth said.
One of Firth’s own “green carpet” triumphs was an emerald green gown made of upcycled fabric created from scratch by British designer Henrietta Ludgate who produces her designs out of a small workshop/showroom in London.
“We source from mills in Scotland and England. We upcycle fabrics and we produce everything locally. It’s zero clothes miles,” Ludgate said. This method gives Ludgate a very hands on approach to the production process which results in a superior product. She goes on to say, “People buy for design rather than sustainability. When they find out about it, I’m hoping that they will buy more!”
Green Carpet Challenge co-founder and fashion journalist, Lucy Siegle would like to see people buying less to begin with. She points out that people could try new things with pieces that are already in existence. “Innovation, as it’s told by mainstream fashion, is about wearing the latest look from the latest celebrity or whatever,” Siegle said. “Ironically, we are working with celebrities, but we’re showing that it’s not just about imitating a trend. It’s actually about techniques, about tailoring and heritage fabrics. It’s about the narrative of a piece,” she added.
It’s a trend that Livia Firth hopes will continue. “Next year we hope to have a dedicated lane at the Oscars for the Green Carpet Challenge people,” she said.
If that’s the case, the stars that participate would definitely make my best dressed list!