“I started this prize three years ago with a harrowing fear that the world our children would inherit would no longer be a liveable one,” says Tom Ford about the Green Carpet Fashion Awards (GCFA), which he co-founded with his friend Livia Firth, Vogue Arabia’s sustainability editor-at-large, and her consultancy Eco-Age. “I wanted to be a part of the solution, not be an arbiter of the problem.” At the March awards, held for the first time in Los Angeles after previous events in Milan, Ford paid tribute to a number of global changemakers working to put sustainability and ethical production at the heart of the fashion and creative industries. Setting the awards in Hollywood made clear the symbiotic relationship between fashion and film, and the profound impact these two powerhouse systems can have on moving an eco-agenda forward.
The GCFA is a global event that has become a symbol of sustainability in the fashion industry, inspiring others to take action and create positive change. It is also known for its high-profile attendees, including celebrities, fashion designers and leaders, and sustainability advocates. The latest edition saw Cate Blanchett, Naomi Campbell, Alicia Silverstone, Jerry Hall, Georgia May Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio, Heidi Klum, and Jodie Turner-Smith walk the carpet at NeueHouse in West Hollywood. Blanchett – one of the co-chairs of this year’s event – donned a mint green custom Valentino suit made from deadstock and archival fabrics, while Turner-Smith rewore a Gucci gown, and Silverstone dressed in a vegan leather coat.
The honorees at this year’s event come from an array of backgrounds and industries, all with one common goal: working towards finding more equitable and sustainable solutions to help save the planet and drive progress. Ford himself was honored with the visionary award for his groundbreaking US $1.2 million Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize, which seeks to find biodegradable alternatives to ubiquitous plastic bags. Oscar-winning actor and environmentalist DiCaprio presented Brazil’s minister for indigenous people Sônia Guajajara with the healer award for her work in protecting forests and placing indigenous people central in the global climate agenda. “Although the task ahead is undoubtedly daunting – in Minister Guajajara’s words, ‘The fight for Mother Earth is the mother of all fights’ – her strong leadership position coupled with her commitment and tenacity fills me with boundless hope,” DiCaprio said onstage. Gucci received the futurist award for its work in constantly disrupting the fashion industry, while Gabriela Hearst was honored with the sage award for her work in reshaping the industry.
Receiving the rebel award was Eric Liedtke, co-founder of Unless Collective, for his efforts in bringing together innovators, engineers, artists, and activists to help solve over-production and waste in fashion. For her continuous vegan activism, Silverstone was presented with the integrity honor, while Turner-Smith handed Vogue UK editor-in-chief Edward Enninful the game changer award for his role in uplifting minority voices and championing diversity in the sometimes all-too-insular world of fashion. The messenger award went to Andreas Kronthaler, creative director of Vivienne Westwood, for his 25-year career in championing Westwood’s legacy.
The GCFA also shone a spotlight on the next generation of leaders. “Passing the microphone to young activists is one of the most important things that we can do right now,” says Firth. “This is not us giving our blessing; we recognize young activists are the driving force of empowerment. We owe them a debt and heavy recognition.” As such, singer, songwriter, and humanitarian Annie Lennox lauded 14 young women leaders working in fields as diverse as environmental action, civil rights, equality, and global feminism. “It encourages and inspires me so much to see a new generation of brilliant young women rising up to address solutions to the countless challenges facing women and girls everywhere,” Lennox commented.
Honorees received a brooch in the shape of a dandelion, which was designed by creative director Stefan Beckman in partnership with jewelry designer Shilpa Yarlagadda. Made from recycled silver, the brooch features a single diamond from Lucara Botswana, an ethical mine in the diamond-rich southern African country – and the only one with a female managing director. The dandelion design was chosen for two dynamic reasons: as a symbol of how change needs to spread through the world, and a reminder that progress can take root in many places, even if they seem unlikely.
Originally published in the April 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia