23-Nov, 06:57

10:38, September 25 134 0

2017-09-25 10:38:03
In Milan, Fashion Walks the Green Carpet

MILAN — As the sun set Sunday, the final day of Milan Fashion Week, a black-tie crowd descended on the Piazza della Scala in the center of the city.

Home to the Teatro alla Scala, one of the world’s most famous and beautiful opera houses, the square had been transformed into a stage for a different kind of spectacle: the first Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia, hosted by Carlo Capasa, chairman of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, which coordinates the country’s fashion industry, and Livia Firth, founder and creative director of the sustainability consultancy Eco-Age.

Celebrities and glitterati made their way across the hundreds of square feet of vivid forest-green carpet (made from recycled fishing nets) covering the square to attend what Ms. Firth called “the Oscars of sustainable fashion.” She said she hoped the inaugural event, which celebrated Italian brands, producers and individuals who have adopted ethical and environmental goals in their business practices, would become an annual fixture on the industry calendar.

“That I can have so many people here is a triumph,” Ms. Firth said, wearing a luminous magenta one-shouldered gown by Roberto Capucci. “We are still at the beginning of the sustainable fashion movement. There is a long way to go. But to have so many of the industry great and good here, standing together, with a shared intent to improve the way the fashion business works, is a very good start.”

Several major houses had created one-off evening dresses from sustainable materials especially for the night: Gisele Bündchen, for example, wore a green Stella McCartney gown made from sustainably sourced viscose from sustainably certified forests in Sweden, while Amber Valletta was in a strapless Missoni creation with bustier boning upcycled from an old dress.

After a Champagne reception under the night sky, the 2,000 guests made their way into the opera house for the awards ceremony, where winners were presented with Chopard-created statuettes made from fair-mined gold. Honorees included Brunello Cucinelli, who received the Community and Social Justice award for what was described as his “humanistic capitalism” in Solomeo, the town in Perugia that he has helped restore and support. Tom Ford received the Best International Designer Supporting “Made in Italy,” although he was not present so the actor Andrew Garfield accepted the award from Anna Wintour. And the seamstresses of Valentino — dozens of whom, in their white coats, crowded the stage — won the Art of Craftsmanship prize, presented by the singer and activist Annie Lennox. Valentino’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, stood alongside, looking on with pride.

“This award really is for them and not for me,” he said. “It is an honor to see these wonderful craftspeople who work so hard behind the scenes being recognized for what they do.

“It is their skills that allow our house to do what we do,” he added.

The last prize of the night triggered a rare moment of unity, and a standing ovation, when four famous Italian designers took to the stage, which had been decorated with lush, leafy trees laden with low-hanging red fruit.

Miuccia Prada, Giorgio Armani, Alessandro Michele of Gucci and Mr. Piccioli were collectively awarded the CNMI Recognition of Sustainability prize for their leadership in instigating responsible and sustainable goals for the Italian fashion industry. As founders of the CNMI Sustainability Roundtable in 2012, they and other members have met to discuss issues like eco-toxicological guidelines for manufacturing leather goods and accessories, sourcing raw materials and using chemical substances in production.

Later they — and around 100 other guests — headed to a private dinner at a lavish palazzo on the other side of the square.

“I really feel like this is the beginning of a whole new era,” said Ms. Bündchen, who received the Eco Laureate award sponsored in part by Italian Vogue. “It is up to us to use events like this as a way of encouraging producers and consumers to ask important questions.”