First published in 2012. Words by Livia Firth
Held at the glorious Metropolitan Museum it is organized by Anna Wintour and Vogue US, and it’s the Mecca for all fashion designers, an opportunity for them to showcase their most opulent creations. Compared to the Oscars ceremony, where the carpet is slightly more conventional and women aspire to a more traditional “shiny” look – the Met Ball is all about “show”. Being over the top is positively encouraged. Let’s face it, that’s what a ‘ball’ is. And where there’s an opportunity for sumptuous gowns and fashion statements, the Green Carpet Challenge must surely go. In fact, the Met has been a big influence on the GCC. Regular followers may recall that last year, Colin and Stella McCartney were the night’s hosts. In celebration, Stella made me a w green gown (later auctioned for Oxfam). This was our first GCC collaboration with a huge name designer and it opened a door. In the last few months we have worked with Tom Ford to Valentino and Armani, not to mention some true Hollywood royalty.
But they don’t come more dazzling than Ms Cameron Diaz who last night joined the Green Carpet Challenge at the Met Ball wearing Stella McCartney. This glittering dress was made from organic silk in collaboration with the GCC. On to this, Stella added thousands of beautiful glass beads and crystal chain, which gave us a new challenge for the future as we work on traceability and sourcing embellished materials. After the insight we’ve had with fairtrade and traceable jewellery and gemstones, this is something I can’t wait to get started on! To have an artist such as Cameron joining the GCC is a huge vote of confidence and extremely exciting.
This year the guests of honour this year were Miuccia Prada and Carey Mulligan (no I am not going to reveal what Carey’s wedding dress was like just in case you thought of asking except to say that Miuccia designed it and it was a totally beautiful affair!). And this year’s Met Ball launches a seminal exhibition, Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada’s Impossible Conversations (it runs until August – go if you’re in New York!).
And so a few months ago I found myself knocking on the door of Prada’s offices in Milan to present the GCC project and ask the great design house to collaborate on a GCC gown for the Met Ball. Although certainly not an “impossible conversation”, I’m not sure I convinced Miuccia of the necessity of green fashion but the hallmark of a great design house is that they were so willing to experiment. I am hugely proud of what this gown has achieved: it represents a GCC first as it’s the first time a designer has used so many different GCC materials in one single piece. And so the black panelled gown mixes certified silks, tulle and chiffon with sustainably harvested ostrich feathers and end-of-line British made lace.It’s testament to the inventiveness of Guisi Bettoni (who put together our GCC fabric library) that even the ostrich feathers are certified! Jewellery by Monique Pean and clutch by Donna Karan from her project Naturally Haiti.
As for the style, the great fashion writer Sarah Mower recently said of Miuccia Prada, “she is the designer who changed the way the world dresses”. Well, I can tell you she certainly changed my idea of what I could wear on the red carpet. Regular followers know that I have a thing for old school Hollywood glamour, well that was essentially thrown out in favour of gothic and dark. I may never go back! This more sophisticated intense mood created by the wonderful Prada dress was only slighltly undone by the faint sound of someone singing New York New York, under her breath. Oh well.