First published in 2010
The challenge begins!
Livia Firth teams up with journalist Lucy Siegle to undertake a challenge to wear only ethical and sustainable dresses on the red carpet as she accompanies her husband, A Single Man star Colin, during the awards season. Lucy explains the challenge:
It is so exciting to welcome you to our blog covering green style during the awards season. Essentially, we’re throwing down the sustainable style gauntlet to ourselves, to you (we’d love to hear your feedback), and to all designers who think fashion has an important part to play in forging design with a conscience at the forefront of ecological and green thinking.
I’m a journalist and broadcaster specialising in environmental and social justice and I fell in love with the idea of ethical fashion a few years ago – sometimes the theory more than the practice. Seconds before everyone packed up for the festive break my good friend, Livia Firth, rang with a plan.
Livia is a film producer, owner of an eco shop in Chiswick (Eco Age), and recently launched a film platform for humanitarian films online (BRIGHTWIDE.COM) with the actor Colin Firth, who is coincidentally her husband (you may have worked that out from the surnames). Colin has been receiving rave reviews for his performance in Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man. He has been nominated for a slew of best actor awards during the Awards Season which means Livia will be accompanying him and requires a lot of gowns (dictated by red carpet protocol).
Anyway her ‘plan’, rattled off down the phone in the manner of gun fire immediately before Christmas, informed me that she was going to do the whole awards season sustainably. Everything she wears on those key red carpets will be fashioned within the remit of environmental and social justice. What is this remit? We think it encompasses labour rights, repurposing, up-cycling, low waste, low carbon, low impact (all the ‘lows’), sustainable fibres, alternative fibres and some organic fibres. You may have other ideas – do you?
I loved the idea but it didn’t take long for a sense of trepidation to sneak over me. Is sustainable design up to this kind of challenge? I have no idea whether we can even achieve it.
But one thing that Livia’s certain about is that she cannot stick out like a sustainable sore thumb. There is a certain stringent sartorial protocol to these events – few women take big fashion risks and perfection isn’t so much a bonus as mandatory. Your opinions on this too please. Then there’s Livia’s own style constraints. Here’s how she describes her style: “I have to confess I’m not madly experimental, so probably I’d have to say that I am quite conservative or traditional. Maybe it’s because I am Italian! But I do sometimes love ‘edgy’ mixed with my conservatism”.
Now, you know when Livia has a plan that it’s not an airy fairy suggestion that will soon be forgotten. It will be a big plan and it will be actioned immediately. Which is why by January 4 I began panicking. About the amount of events: the awards season runs potentially until mid March. The scale: some of these are seriously prestigious events and which is the most prestigious and/or the most scrutinised from a fashion point of view. And the fact that the first red carpet is a biggie (the Golden Globes, no less) and takes place on Sunday January 17 in LA.
So here we are, with literally hours to go. You can follow the start of this mission through to the first dress (we found something JUST by the skin of our teeth), in the videos here made by Alessandro and Francesco. Not only will you be able to witness our panic, sometimes falling into hysteria as the clock ticks by, but you’ll see some fine cameos from fashion expert Caryn Franklin, director of sustainable fashion at the London College of Fashion Dilys Williams and the ridiculously talented Christopher Raeburn, who is one of the great hopes of sustainable fashion – yes, we’ll be trying to get him to design a dress.
We are totally indebted to Christina Marty for helping us out for the first hurdle in this challenge. All is explained in the third film, so I’m not going to give it away until you’ve seen it. It would be great if we could get a really vibrant discussion going here. Do you think we can do it – Have you got any tips for us? Any suggestions of where to look and whom to call? We’ll be reporting back via blogs, short video clips, pictures and tweets as our curious experiment picks up speed. I’ll post you a timetable next time with a list of some of the events and we’ll have news from Livia direct from the Golden Globes (she’ll be Tweeting at @vogue_london). I can’t wait to find out how this sustainable number will go down on the red carpet!
After Sunday, our quest shifts to LA and an intriguing place called Vie PR, which sounds like a hothouse for ethical design. Livia and our great friend Jocelyn Whipple – an ethical stylist – will be heading there directly after the Globes to begin sourcing for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 23. Of course I’m staying here in rainy London, so please come and keep me company from time to time.
All ideas, support and general bonhomie is very welcome. Speak soon and make sure you don’t miss a moment of Livia’s adventure by following @vogue_london.
This blog is sponsored by Intelligent Nutrients.