Greening the Red Carpet: Eco-fashion at the Oscars

March 18, 2012 Updated: June 16, 2012
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Sustainable fashion was in vogue at the 84th Academy Awards on Feb. 26 due to awareness raised by two campaigns dedicated to the cause: the Green Carpet Challenge (GCC) and the Red Carpet Green Dress contest.

For the Green Carpet Challenge, founder Livia Firth, Colin Firth’s eco-conscious and fashionable wife, has enlisted top stylists like Tom Ford, Gucci, Chanel, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Paul Smith, Valentino, Roger Vivier, Alberta Ferretti, and Ermenegildo Zegna to design clothing conforming to GCC standards for her own red carpet appearances since 2009.

And now her enthusiasm for the project has caught on.

This year, several designers outfitted A-list celebrities in environmentally friendly fashions for the Academy Awards, including standout award nominees and winners. Among them were Meryl Streep in Lanvin, and both Kenneth Branagh and Demián Bichir in Ermenegildo Zegna.

Livia Firth wore a custom-made Valentino gown from a blend of silk and recycled PET plastic, and accessorized with sustainably sourced and traceable pink diamond jewelry by Calleija.

“Livia’s passion for the mission of this project is infectious,” Gucci’s Frida Giannini said on “We all have a collective responsibility toward future generations to minimize our impact on the environment, and through this initiative we can hopefully show that you don’t have to make any compromises in design and creativity when working with environmentally friendly materials.”

Firth told “Over the last three years, the Green Carpet Challenge has become an all-consuming passion of mine. This part of the fashion landscape is so exciting because it’s genuinely revolutionary and relentlessly positive. It is absolutely the right time to take the challenge up a gear, so we are working with our favorite world-class designers and actors as GCC ambassadors. Fashion is a brilliant communicator. The fashion we communicate through the GCC promotes social justice, environmental integrity, and the very best in design.”

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On a parallel mission, environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron, wife of James Cameron, launched the Red Carpet Green Dress contest in 2009 after wearing countless dresses during nonstop red carpet “Avatar” premieres and coming to realize the environmental footprint that fashion can have on the planet, according to a press release. The experience inspired the global challenge, now in its third year, in which designers submit red-carpet-worthy designs made entirely of sustainable materials.

At the Academy Awards, Missi Pyle from the cast of “The Artist” wore this year’s winning design: a flowing blue gown made from organic silk (for which the silk worm is not killed), hand-dyed by California-based company A Dyeing Art using natural mineral pigments, and lined with recycled polyester.

Venezuelan Valentina Delfino, a fashion design student at Ai Miami International University of Art & Design, was chosen from hundreds of designers around the world who submitted sketches. 

Red Carpet Green Dress was delivered by Global Campaign Director and previous winner Samata Angel

“All the world is watching this red carpet,” said actress Missi Pyle in a press release.

“And as artists, I believe it is our job to show the world that we not only care about creating incredible art, but that we are mindful of the fact that, in doing so, we can make something beautiful that is also sustainable. It is an incredible honor for me to walk the most glamorous red carpet in the world in such a stunning and meaningful dress.”

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Meryl Streep donned a gold, full-length Lanvin gown made from eco-certified fabric sourced with help from the Green Carpet Challenge. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
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Demián Bichir (right) wearing Ermenegildo Zegna, a tuxedo designed with TROFEO 600 fabric, which is a blend of superfine wool and silk. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)