Why I Wore An 'Upcycled' Dress To The Oscars

Livia Firth on indulging her passion for ethical fashion

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"Forgive me if I still sound a bit dazed, but the last few days have a surreal quality about them," writes Livia Firth for her Huffington Post blog. "My husband Colin now has an Oscar. Everybody keeps asking me how it feels. Well, it feels amazing! And the feeling is heightened by the fact that Colin's journey through the awards season, both this year for The King's Speech and last (when he was nominated for Tom Ford's beautiful film A Single Man) has also given me the opportunity to indulge my own passion: for ethical fashion.

"To explain, last year my friend Lucy Siegle challenged me to go through all the red carpets unfurled for the awards season dressed exclusively in sustainable style. We launched our diary of this on Vogue.com, entitled The Green Carpet Challenge. We began tentatively and built up steam. By last Sunday I had the (eco) confidence to enter the Kodak Theatre in a dress made by designer Gary Harvey from eleven pre-loved, forgotten and damaged dresses from the era of The King's Speech. The mandatory jewelry (the Oscars being a particularly bling-friendly event) was Fairtrade, fair-mined and ecologically certified - a world first apparently.

"As creative director and co-owner (with my brother Nicola) of Eco Age, I had some interest in the environmental impact and social justice implications of the clothes I wear. But just to place myself in the green scene, I am not a classic "eco warrior" and should confess that I'm even a little tired of words such as "eco," "green" and "ethical." It's more that I dream of a world where everything is ecological, green and ethical so that actually we don't have to define them anymore. I do believe that it is our responsibility to ask questions about the implications that our lives have on the environment, whether you want to define this in terms of carbon footprint (climate change), or the people who manufacture the things we use, eat and wear (trade), or both.

"When it comes to lifestyles, what we wear should be almost as big a consideration as what we eat. Our wardrobes/closets have huge footprints, but we often choose not to acknowledge the fact. And there's the fact that we are far more clued up about where to shop for responsible, sustainable, ethical produce than where to find fashion fodder with the same attributes.

"The Green Carpet Challenge has always been about raising the profile of designs and designers who do things different to the mainstream. They prioritise social and environmental justice along with their aesthetic. It has also been responsible for educating me on the trials and triumphs of wearing fashion with ethics. Once you get into this I don't think it's possible to go back."

Livia Firth Huffington Post

March 4, 2011