Glitz, glam, and green

Red Carpet Green Dress
United States (Los Angeles)

Being in the spotlight is a chance to get green, seen.

 

The glamorous dresses and stylish suits that grace the red carpet are still part of the harm caused by the fashion industry. And with all eyes on them, these outfits have the power to either be part of the story, or to tell a new one. Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) has turned these flashing-camera moments into an opportunity to make a statement about the change needed in the fashion industry.

RCGD was founded by actress, environmental advocate, and author Suzy Amis Cameron in 2009, when she was preparing to walk the red carpet with her husband James Cameron for his Avatar nomination. Faced with no sustainable options for her dress, she decided to start a campaign that would draw attention to the issues – both social and environmental – in the fashion industry.

RCDG at the Oscars works with emerging and established brands to showcase designs ranging from organic, upcycled, recycled and circular, to plant-based, biodegradable and artisan-made – always considering the latest design solution as well as wider social conversations. 

Each year, the RCGD global design contest calls on designers to submit ideas that consider both environmental and social impacts throughout the total lifecycle of the garment. To ensure rigour and credibility, RCGD’s evolving design criteria – which take into consideration impact on people, the planet and animals – have been reviewed by organisations including Greenpeace, Cradle To Cradle and Good On You. 

Contest winners have included Samata Pattinson – now the organisation’s CEO – who created a certified hemp and silk chiffon dress, hand dyed with cranberry residue and embroidered with vintage beads; and Jomnarn Dul, with a tux made from recycled plastic bottles, hemp and marigold flowers. 

2010 Suzy Amis Cameron Blue Dress

Samata describes how RCDG was a gateway to a whole new way of engaging with the fashion industry. “When I entered the Red Carpet Green Dress contest, I was designing a dress for the red carpet and I had no idea what sustainability meant. I had to learn it very quickly from the lens of product design so focusing on materials and dyes as my learning began, but once I entered the space I realised that there was a whole other part of the industry that was asking the kind of questions I wanted to get the answers to, and I couldn’t consider leaving it. Questions like where does this come from? Who made this? Who does this impact?”

Some of RCGD’s campaign highlights have included Léa Seydoux in an ethical and environmentally responsible gown made from TENCEL™Luxe filament yarn, and organic silk faille paired with custom-made organic Louis Vuitton satin sandals. And Ghanaian-born Michael Badgers’ elaborate gold creation, which uses GOTS certified silk dyed using chamomile and goldenrod seeds, and incorporates vintage and recycled elements like candy wrappers. Dame Vivienne Westwood worked her embroidery magic on the gown, and it was dyed and approved in line with Greenpeace’s Detox Fashion campaign before being worn by actor Naomie Harris.

Outfits like these have been worn to the Oscars by RCDG’s ambassadors including Lakeith Stanfield, Laura Harrier, Kaitlyn Dever, Missi Pyle, Danielle MacDonald, Camila Alves, Sophie Turner, Priyanka Bose, Emma Roberts – as well, of course, as Suzy Amis Cameron herself.

Meanwhile, RCDG runs digital workshops, fashion college outreach and internship opportunities, to draw attention to the importance of more positive practices in the fashion industry. And in response to COVID-19, it launched The Hub – a bank of useful articles and inspiration for creatives around the world who are looking for ways to feel hopeful during a difficult time for the industry.

“We need to focus on inclusive education in a way that is not patronising, judgemental or overloaded with technical jargon,” Samata says. “It’s important that people at the start of their journeys don’t feel overwhelmed or as if they lack the skill set to even understand the problems.”

Despite fewer chances to get the glad rags out, the pandemic hasn’t held RCGD back – 2021 will see them launch a new range of eco-couture textiles through their innovation lab. 

Being glam really can be green.

AtlasAction: Keep an eye on RCGD’s Twitter and Facebook to hear about the next contest – and learn fun facts about sustainable fashion while you’re at it.

All images courtesy of Red Carpet Green Dress.

Written by

Becca Warner (13 April 2021)

    Project leader

    Suzy Amis Cameron, Founder

    Partners

    This project has been selected as part of FashionFutures, a new  content channel that maps the work of people transforming the fashion sector: the designers, craftspeople, social innovators, educators, community leaders and communicators. Atlas of the Future is excited to partner with Makerversity, with the support of The J J Charitable Trust and their network of fashion friends.

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