First published in 2012. Words by Livia Firth
Armani launches the Green Carpet Challenge 2012.
Sometime yesterday afternoon I began to get that slightly wobbly-legged feeling. This can mean only one thing: it’s time to walk the Golden Globes red carpet. But if ever there was a gown to give confidence in this highly charged environment, home of a zillion flash bulbs, it is this one.
Armani, I am wearing Armani in a GCC collaboration! Over the past 24 hour I have had to keep repeating that to myself. To the touch this dress feels like silk, and sways and moves in way that is classically elegant. It is cut with the precision that you would expect from Armani. This first outing in the 2012 GCC is a distinctly Italian affair. Armani, myself and an unlikely tale of used plastic bottles from Nothern Italy. I never thought I’d say that sentence. Because yes, this super silky sophisticated dress is actually made from fibres scavenged from the recycling of householders in Northern Italy. Make-up artist, Georgie Eisdell understood the heritage of this look immediately. “We have to have Sofia Loren eyes!” she announced.
Over to Roberta Armani, Giorgio’s niece and right hand woman for the official description of the dress. “For the 69th Golden Globes my uncle has designed an exclusive gown for Livia, created from a special fabric made with fibres derived from the mechanical, non-chemical recycling of plastic bottles. The dress is a strapless column style, with the bodice composed of horizontal strips of fabric that create a peplum at the front, opening up to form a geometrically-pleated train at the back, highlighted by an ornate lining.”
When I put the dress on it felt incredible; it transports me to Italy in the 1960s. There is also a really fun geisha reference in this dress with the ornate lining – very in line with the current Armani look. But the real achievement for me is that last night the GCC proved that sophistication and sustainability can go together. That’s the victory that Armani has delivered for us.
The Golden Globes is always super charged with excitement as it’s the first big outing of the awards Season. There was an air of joviality about last night’s proceedings, not least because Ricky Gervais was presenting. This year was such good fun for Colin and I – as he is presenting rather than sitting through the tense wait for Best Actor. And we’re so excited for some of our friends, especially Elizabeth McGovern of Downton Abbey – a very elegant GCC ambassador.
If you’re an eco-fashion anorak (and nothing wrong with that!) the story behind the fabric is pretty interesting. GCC Co-founder Lucy Siegle tells us more, ‘Armani went for fibre from Newlife ?, a project developed by Filature Miroglio that takes place in Northern Italy. Rather than a vertical supply chain this has been developed horizontally through a system of certified partnerships, all in Italy. This means it’s fully traceable – which gets a big thumbs up from the GCC. The end product – the yarn – is fully derived from recycled plastic bottles. In the past I’ve read about issues with fibre from recycled bottles. A well known rumour involved a manufacturer of this type of yarn in Asia refusing to pay the price for genuine recycled bottles (and sorting and collecting them) so setting up a factory to produce fresh bottles – which obviously goes against the whole point. So the attraction of this production line is that it is ‘fully’ derived from post consumption plastic bottles from recycling bins across Northern Italy (i.e the ones we all use once and throw away). Apparently you need thiry one-and-a-half litre bottles to make one kilo of Newlife TM yarn. It is also processed using a mechanical rather than chemical process. The dyeing cycle and output is the same in this case as standard polyseter. And the polymer is dyed to demand in the yarn phase, so that avoids wasting water (in the traditional process 10 litres of water is used per 1kg of yarn).’
Earrings are from the Damiani archive. Yes, you guessed it – they are an Italian company with a very long history and a deep interest in ethical sourcing. The pieces I chose are Deco earrings from the 1930s – white gold with diamonds. One earring has an Australian pearl, and the other a Tahiti grey pearl. Simply beautiful. An honour to borrow them. Ring from Alberto Parada, THE sustainable jewellers.
This is just the beginning. Which great design name will be next to step up to the Green Carpet Challenge?