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Milan Fashion Week Closes with ‘Oscars of Sustainable Fashion’

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Models are seen backstage ahead of the Chika Kisada show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on Sept. 24. Tristan Fewings / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

Milan Fashion Week closed on Sunday with the second annual "Green Carpet Fashion Awards" to promote sustainability in the fashion industry, Reuters reported.


The event, promoted by Italy's fashion association CNMI and the sustainability consultancy Eco-Age, gathered celebrities like Julianne Moore, Colin Firth and Cate Blanchett with fashion icons like Cindy Crawford and Anna Wintour to award 13 statuettes made from ethically mined gold, The Guardian reported.

"People called last year's Green Carpet awards the Oscars of sustainable fashion," Eco-Age founder Livia Firth said. "I hope that soon we will just be the Oscars of fashion."

Winners included model Elle Macpherson, who took home The Wellness Award, new this year to acknowledge the importance that human wellness plays in environmental sustainability, Eco-Age reported.

"Fashion can be very beautiful and lucrative, but to be here for a real purpose for me is important," Machpherson told Reuters.

Other winners included Donatella Versace, who took home The CNMI in Recognition for Sustainability Award for Versace's commitment to going fur free, as well as its designing of green retail spaces and attempts to create a people-centered company culture, Cameron Russell, who won The Changemaker Award for fighting back against harassment in modelling and Sinéad Burke, who won The Leader Award for "changing the fashion conversation for good," Eco-Age said.

Burke, who has dwarfism, campaigns to make fashion more inclusive.

"The influence of fashion shapes culture," she asked the audience, according to The Guardian. "What will you do with your privilege to make this space more accessible?"

The awards also honored sustainable production techniques. The Australian Woolmark farmers won The Eco Stewardship Award for their sustainable wool production. Frumat Leather won the Technology and Innovation Award for a leather made from apple waste that is "of such quality and appeal that it can displace animal leather," Eco-Age said.

The awards, however, came days after a New York Times story cast doubt on the ethical practices of Italian fashion, The Guardian reported.

The investigation, published Sept. 20, reported how home workers in the region of Puglia, Italy were doing sewing for luxury garments without contracts or insurance, sometimes earning as little as a euro per hour.

CNMI President Carlo Capasa said he was "saddened and concerned" by the report, according to The Guardian, but that the problem was larger than Italy.

"Rather than 'this is Italy'," he said, "I would say 'this is the world'."

However, there was a recognition among participants and award winners that they were part of a powerful industry working to right its past wrongs.

Renzo Rosso, along with Diego Della Valle, won the CNMI in recognition for Community and Social Justice Award for reinvesting in communities, including those devastated by earthquakes, according to Eco-Age.

"People like all of us destroyed the world. But now, we are trying to make it better for our children," he said, according to The Guardian.

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