Green Carpet Fashion Awards: Prizes for Donatella Versace, Suzy Menkes and Calabria village

Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and Cindy Crawford all presented prizes at this year’s Green Carpet Fashion Awards in Milan opera house La Scala, the Continent’s most glamorous fashion ceremony, in an evening that began with a spirited defence of Italy.


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A quartet of noted women, a village in Calabria, Tasmanian woolgrowers and two Italian billionaires picked up prizes at a ceremony to encourage sustainability in fashion and celebrate local artisanal skill, that began with a robust defence of Italy.
 
Opening the ceremony, Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the governing body of the Italian runway seasons, responded to a story in the New York Times entitled 'Inside Italy’s Shadow Economy,' claiming that thousands of low-paid home workers are being exploited in southern Italy to produce expensive clothes for the likes of Max Mara, Louis Vuitton and Fendi.
 
“According to American academics in immigration around 12,000 undeclared and irregular seamstresses work in sewing garments in New York City only. In many countries irregular workers are not even counted. So rather than saying this is Italy, I would say this is the world,” said Capasa, to a loud round of applause from an audience of 2,000 in the six-tiered opera house.
 
“We know that fast-fashion is much to blame. In Italy, all the luxury fashion houses are united in addressing the issue of exploitation and irregular work,” added Capasa, claiming that they had reduced the quantity of the irregular by 60% in the last couple of years.
 
The Green Carpets are the brainchild of Livia Firth, the dynamic wife of Oscar winning actor Colin Firth, who joined Capasa on stage.
 
“These awards are referred to as the awards that put the heart back into the global fashion industry. We will hear stories about transformative change and real solutions for a future where fashion is finally sustainable,” said Firth, inviting on stage Valentino Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli to present the first Visionary Award to noted fashion editor Suzy Menkes.
 
“It’s not an easy job to write about Suzy… I feel like I am invading her ring with her own super powers in words,” said Piccioli.
 
Accepting the award, a statuette of a diva in a long gown wrapped in a leaf, Menkes drew a lot of laughs by quipping: “What an extraordinary moment to accept this award, for you in the audience always see me wearing purple and now I am wearing green!”
 
“I really admire Italy because I know this is the only country were there are still human hands working to produce beautiful clothes,” added Menkes, the international editor of 21 international editions of Vogue online, to prolonged applause.
 
Next up, actress Moore gave the Handcraft Award to the cobblers of Salvatore Ferragamo, before a score of them in white coats joined her on stage. While fellow thespian Blanchett gave the Eco Stewardship award to four sheep farmers from Tasmania, who all wore hats on the legendary stage, which has hosted the debut performances of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and seven operas by Giuseppe Verdi.
 
The central city square outside had been transformed into a series of garden during the six-day Milan season, which ended Monday morning, and the façade of La Scala had been covered by carpet depicting bucolic nature, though made of 1,600 kilos of recycled plastic bottles.
 
Models Petra Nemcova and Emily Ratajkowski then gave Renzo Rosso and Diego Della Valle, owners of the Diesel and Tod’s empires, awards for Community and Social Justice. While the much-watched prize for Best Emerging Designer went to Gilberto Calzolari, whose frock made of used coffee sock was greatly admired.
 
Gucci’s towering two-metre CEO Marco Bizzari then went down on one knee to greet fashion writer Sinead Burke who has Acondroplasia and is 3 foot six inches tall.
 
“Thank you to Livia Firth for this exceptional award. Thank you to Marco for your kind words. It was not lost on me that they asked the tallest man in fashion to give my award,” quipped Burke, in the most heart felt speech from the podium.
 
“I have been enamoured with fashion since childhood, for me fashion is important because it is the one industry that we all interact with. Legally, we must wear clothes,” Burke said, to more applause from the black tie and ball-gown audience
 
The final award went to Donatella Versace, given to her by Crawford.
 
“I know it might sound obvious but we are running out of time to save our planet. If everyone did a little something to contribute, things would improve dramatically… but it’s the only way forward,” said the blonde designer, before a select group of some 200 guests crossed the square for a supper of risotto and prawns in Milan’s city hall, hosted by Mayor Giuseppe Sala.

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