Awards Season, With a Sustainable Twist

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — On Thursday night, in a bit of counterprogramming to the stream of gowns, jewelry and tuxedos of awards season, the organization Eco-Age drew celebrities out to the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, an event spotlighting those in fashion and entertainment who are embracing sustainable practices.

If you’ve looked closely at recent red carpets, you’ve seen changes taking shape, however small. Cate Blanchett, a co-chair of the event, has been known to repeat outfits. (At the SAG Awards, she wore an Armani gown that used upcycled lace from a dress she had worn years earlier.) In 2020, the actor Joaquin Phoenix made news by wearing the same tuxedo — designed by Stella McCartney — throughout awards season. Vintage is also becoming a more common sight.

It was the first time the event, previously held in Milan, had taken place in Los Angeles before the Oscars. Attendees included actors, activists and sustainability advocates. Tom Ford was honored with the Visionary Award for spearheading the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize, which seeks to find biodegradable alternatives to polyethylene, or poly, bags. During his acceptance speech, Mr. Ford announced the winners of the prize.

Leonardo DiCaprio presented an award to ​​Sônia Guajajara, Brazil’s minister for Indigenous people, for her work in protecting the lands and people of the Amazon. The musician Annie Lennox presented an award recognizing 14 young women for their roles in climate activism and social change.

Attendees were encouraged to re-wear outfits or choose sustainable options, as part of Eco-Age’s Green Carpet Challenge. Before the awards show, we asked people what a responsible red carpet outfit looks like and what their most-used closet essentials were. Here’s what we heard.

Interviews have been edited.


Who are you wearing, and how is it sustainable? This is Marine Serre, and she uses closed-loop and zero-waste production. The brand’s all about using recycled and upcycled fibers.

It’s a bold look. What made you choose it? What makes anyone choose anything? It was a moment of inspiration. It’s looking in the mirror and thinking: “Hey, I’ve never done this before. This looks risky and challenging and outside my comfort zone.”

What’s your favorite eco-friendly practice? This is both sustainable and mentally very cathartic. I will take the time to clean out the Tupperware that comes from restaurants because you can’t recycle them properly unless they’re clean. So I’ll sit there scrubbing for like 25, 30 minutes. And then I look at all the plastic that I’ve cleaned. It’s a very wonderful feeling.

Actress, blogger, activist

What are you wearing tonight? It’s vegan leather. I just wrote a post on my blog, The Kind Life, because people think that leather is more sustainable than vegan leather. Look, my first stop is to always choose used materials. The second stop is to shop with sustainable designers. But sometimes I want to wear something to show you don’t need to wear skin — this is a vegan coat.

What’s your most important at-home sustainability practice? At home, the most important thing you can do for the environment is with your fork. I am a vegan for the earth and for animals.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet that you wear regularly? My jeans. I mean, I keep things until they’re dead or somebody tells me, “You have to throw that away.” When my mom passed, I took a lot of her clothes, and I’m wearing a lot of her jewelry and her clothes. I even have some of her underwear! I know that she would love it.

What are you wearing, and how is it sustainable? This is Gucci, and I actually wore this two years ago at the Cannes Film Festival, so we’re recycling it. Oh, and the jewelry is all recycled gold and ethically obtained stones and made in Los Angeles, from Irene Neuwirth.

What’s your most-worn piece in your closet? Oh, I have this green leather coat that I bought probably in 2016. It was the most expensive thing I bought for myself at the time. It was $400, and I bought it at the flea market.

Model and television host

What are you wearing tonight, and how is it sustainable? This is from Ronald van der Kemp. It’s the first time I’m wearing him. Everything he does is sustainable.

What’s the oldest piece from your closet that you still wear? Well, I don’t get rid of anything. I’m a hoarder. I have two daughters, and I’m sure that they’re going to want to have some of my things. I want to have some of my things! But, you know, stereotypical things — 501s, if I still fit in them. Bags, of course.

Who are you wearing, and how is it sustainable? I’m wearing Gabriela Hearst, who we’re celebrating tonight.

What’s something in your closet that you wear over and over? I have this black hijab that I got, like, six years ago. It’s my ultimate go-to. It just goes with everything.

What’s your favorite everyday sustainability practice? It’s so small, but something as simple as having one cup that I take to get refilled at Starbucks, Caribou, whatever coffee shop. That’s the one good thing I’ve done this year, to have my one reusable cup.

What are you wearing, and is it sustainable? Oh gosh — honestly, this was the dress that I pulled out of the bag two hours ago that was the least crinkled. It’s from a brand called Me+Em. I’m pretty sure they do the right thing. I’m not really interested in brands that don’t. It’s definitely something I’ve worn before. It’s not my new razzle-dazzle.

What’s the thing in your closet you wear the most? Oh, this Tory Burch suit that I got about three years ago. It’s a little jaunty brown corduroy set, and it’s really great trousers. I look a bit Oliver Twist, but with a happier ending. I really love a well-done suit. When I put it on, I feel like myself. I feel great. And it gives me a kind of power.

What’s a sustainability pet peeve you have? I get angry at wasteful packaging that’s meant to confer status of some kind.

If you were a designer, and you were making a sustainable outfit, what would you make? I think I would want to make something that celebrates different cultures. And then also to something that encourages people to mix and match it with pieces they already own in their closet.

Is there something that shifted the way you shop toward a more sustainable model? Having a kid!

Model and activist

What are you wearing, and how is it sustainable? Oh, these are my Norma Kamali pants, and I wear them everyplace I go for the past few years.

What’s something in your closet that you wear often, in different ways? I have this jumpsuit that I wear all the time. Sometimes I’ll wear it three, four times in a row, even to the fanciest places.

What’s your go-to sustainability practice for everyday life? You know, the great thing about living in upstate New York is you learn to really recycle. Because it really is a whole practice.


Talk to me about what you’re wearing. I’m not a fashionista. I’m just not. So I won’t be coming to an event wearing somebody’s new dress. However, as I’ve been invited, I’m using clothing like a tool, with a message.

What’s your relationship to the sustainability movement? I’m not perfect — I’m going to be honest with you. I’m just like everybody else. I’m a bit of a consumer. But having said that, a great deal of what I wear is secondhand.


What are you wearing tonight, and how is it sustainable? The whole outfit is vintage. My stylist got it from a vintage store. And I liked the flowiness of this. This is an easy night — I didn’t want to do a suit and tie. This feels a bit more special.

What’s a sustainable practice that you do in your day-to-day life? Well, I’m trying to walk more. This is such a car city, where you have to drive. But where I’m at, I can walk to a local corner store, a convenience store, a grocery store. It’s a nice walkable area. It’s a way to build community, just less car and more walking.