One Night to Change Lives in Dubai

Green Carpet Challenge

The Green Carpet Challenge gets ‘One Night to Change Lives’ with an Oxfam auction in Dubai

My fingers are still shaking a little as I type this – this weekend, the GCC helped to raise a cool US $500,000 for Oxfam and Dubai Cares at the Dubai Film Festival.

Partnering with Dubai Cares, Oxfam put on an extraordinary auction night hosted by actors Kristin Davis, Rooney Mara, Freida Pinto and Colin Firth. And among the auction lots were two very special GCC pieces; the red Valentino dress made to GCC criteria that I wore to the 2012 Oscars, and a set of stunning ethical jewels made for the GCC for Cannes 2012. Made from fair trade, ethically mined and ecologically sourced 18ct white gold and set with magnificent Brazilian pink tourmaline and Jeweltree diamonds, they were made by Anna Loucah, one of my favourite UK jewellers working with ethical materials.

And now I need a pause and a sharp intake of breath, because I’m delighted to announce that the GCC pieces alone raised nearly $80,000. And as there was a bit of a tussle over the jewellery (only in auction terms, nothing physical) I got the bidder who lost the Cannes pieces to take another bespoke ethical creation by Anna Loucah. In the midst of the GCC season we all get swept up in who will be wearing which GCC pieces and in the minutiae of sourcing CITES approved ostrich feathers and organic silks, so it was fantastic to be in Dubai and to see first-hand just how much the GCC gowns raised for these amazing charities.

Oxfam never fails to inspire me. I’ve always said that my awakening about the real potential of the fashion industry and trade justice came from the trips I’ve been lucky enough to take with Oxfam, including a seminal trip to Bangladesh where I saw how garment factories really operate. Rooney Mara arrived at the auction with that similar look of determination in her eye, and sure enough, the actress had arrived straight from spending 10 days in Africa with Oxfam. The Egyptian actor Amr Waked also reminded the audience that although their donations would mean little to them, the money would change the lives of the recipients forever. It got Kristin Davis, one of Oxfam’s most active ambassadors, and I practically signing up for our next┬átrip.

The night was a GCC affair to remember. Three of us walked the green carpet: Freida Pinto in vintage Valentino made of silk gazer, Kristin Davis in a vintage Dior dress from the 1950s and I wore Alberta Ferretti for the GCC, made from organic silk.

The room was gripped by auction fever. Surprise lots began to be introduced. Freida Pinto suddenly decided to auction the vintage Valentino gown she was wearing for the GCC. She even threw in breakfast as well! It was then that I noticed my husband on stage auctioning his eco tuxedo made for the GCC by Paul Smith, which he wore recently at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. I wondered if anybody would have any clothes left at the end of the night.

The auction was wonderful, heart-warming and important. I want to say thank you to everybody who has supported the GCC because these are the sorts of things we are able to do.