The first-ever virtual Green Carpet Fashion Awards took place on Saturday, October 10, honoring “the best of sustainable fashion.” The ceremony, which was streamed on YouTube from a digital-rendering of Milan’s iconic opera house La Scala, was hosted by Eco-Age consultancy founder Livia Firth in collaboration with Italian fashion body the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana.

Launched in Milan in 2017, the GCFAs are the only awards ceremony to honor both the handprint of fashion (the human capital that goes into the making of fashion) and acknowledge the footprint (the natural capital and environmental impact) of fashion at this level.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2020 GCFA ceremony relied heavily on technology. Directed by Grammy-nominated Giorgio Testi and produced by Emmy Award winner Pulse Films, the revolutionary show combined cinematic footage with a fusion of augmented reality and visual FX created using real-time game engines, and with the world’s leading talent and opinion formers appearing as holograms courtesy of ARHT Media.

“When we started to look around at what other people were doing in the event space, everything that was happening online: concerts, virtual ceremonies. It all felt very like the middle ages of technology,” said Livia Firth, founder of Eco-Age and the GCFAs. “We thought, you must be able to do something better and bigger.”

The evening was hosted by Carlo Capasa, the chairman of the Camera Nazionale and actor Colin Firth, founder of the Green Carpet Challenge, which promotes making sustainable red carpets choices.

Zendaya was awarded the 2020 GCFA Visionary Award. According to a statement, the 24-year-old won the award as she “not only has long been leading the charge to increase both inclusivity and diversity in fashion, but she has persevered in how she can personally make a difference in the industry, using her platform as an actor and as a creative, to open doors and give a voice to those who otherwise would not be able to showcase their talent.”

2020 GCFA Visionary Award

During her virtual acceptance speech, the Emmy winning actress wore a vintage silk column evening gown embroidered with paillettes, beads, and Medusa heads shoulder straps from Gianni Versace’s 1996 collection.

“People forget that vintage is sustainable; it’s a way to reduce waste,” her stylist Law Roach told British Vogue adding that the fashion choice was inspired by the year Zendaya was born.

“I think fashion has always truly lived in my heart,” the Euphoria star said in her acceptance speech. “Ever since I was very, very young I loved clothes. And I think it’s so much more than just clothes. I think it’s an art, it’s emotion, it’s feeling and to me through clothes I’ve been able to find myself and be more confident in myself as a young woman, growing into my womanhood. And also throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of being able to showcase other and different types of beauties through the work that I get to do.”

 The Independent Designer Award, which spotlights creatives who practice sustainability principles went to Sindiso Khumalo.  The South African- fashion designer’s most recent runway show, for spring 2021 was inspired by the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Sindiso Khumalo

“I started my brand with the premise of being a modern-day Robin Hood, to make luxury clothing that will eventually help the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, to create a change for our continent and to create a new future for our youth,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Progetto Quid won the CNMI Responsible Disruption Award, which was presented by the iconic model Iman. The ethical and sustainable fashion brand creates limited-edition collections of clothes and accessories by recovering otherwise wasted high-quality textiles from prestigious fashion brands. These fabrics are regenerated into beautiful collections and manufactured by people — mostly women — with vulnerable pasts, who find in Quid a new beginning. 

Colin Firth

South African-born actress and human rights activist Nomzamo Mbatha presented the North Star Award, which went to the United Nations for its Sustainable Development Goals and was accepted on behalf of the organization and its U.N. Alliance for Sustainable Fashion by Tatiana Valovaya, the director-general of the United Nations at Geneva. Firth also presented the Art of Craftsmanship Award to the artisans of the country of Italy. 

Each of the evening’s five awards statuettes was designed by Chopard in ethical gold.

Scroll through the gallery below to see more sustainable styles from the digital event.

During her virtual acceptance speech, Zendaya wore a vintage silk column brown silk evening gown embroidered with paillettes, beads, and Medusa heads shoulder straps from Gianni Versace’s 1996 collection. The Emmy winning actress accessorized with a coordinating headband, Christian Louboutin pumps, and Bvlgari jewels.

As a nod to the Visionary Award winner, Olivia Palermo attended virtually wearing a hand-beaded orange backless gown from the Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya Spring 2019  collection. If the 70s-inspired frock looks familiar, it may be because Priyanka Chopra wore it back in May 2019 during Cannes Film Festival.

British songstress Ellie Goulding wore a glamorous green Ralph & Russo Couture gown featuring over 150 responsibly sourced Zambian emeralds from Gemfields.

Regina King wore a pretty dusty blue Prada gown featuring crystal embellishments, sequin embroideries, and outlining black velvet ribbons. “The Watchmen” actress originally wore the dress to the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Italian actress Matilda de Angelis wore a custom-made Prada which was created with Re-Nylon, an ecological and sustainable fabric created with ECONYL® regenerated yarn. Prada ankle boots of the same material completed the look.

Also wearing Prada, Alexa Chung chose to re-wear the gold lamé brocade cocktail dress she wore back in 2016 for the Vogue 100 Gala Dinner in London.

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Yoooooo, I am proudly wearing Ermenegildo Zegna on the digital green carpet for the Green Carpet Fashion Awards 2020. I have fully embraced the Green Carpet Challenge by re-wearing an existing look that was originally made from recycled fibres!! Zegna’s #USETHEEXISTING project recovers pre-consumer offcuts from Zegna’s manufacturing process and mechanically recycles them, without the use of chemicals, into new fabric. Offcuts from garment manufacturing are often discarded, resulting in a huge amount of material and resource waste. Recovering these materials and giving them another life through recycling is paramount to make sure we don’t waste resources. Look towards the future. We can do anything. Let’s make it right. P @zegnaofficial @ecoage @cameramoda #gcfaitalia 📸: S. Sawyers Art director: W. Sawyers

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“P-Valley” actor Parker Sawyers wore a look from Zegna’s #Usetheexisting project which recovers pre-consumer offcuts from Zegna’s manufacturing process and mechanically recycles them, without the use of chemicals, into new fabric.

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It felt so amazing to be wearing a one of a kind dress designed by @mmissoni for the digital green carpet fashion awards 2020 ( @ecoage ) 🌍 The dress is made of recycled plastic bottles and up cycled missoni threads 🌟 Fashion is one of the few all-spectrum industries (from agriculture to communications), and has its fair share of global issues: it is in fact one of the most polluting industries and biggest employer of slave labour worldwide. For me this is extremely emotional because fashion is such a huge part of my life and also such a beautiful creative outlet and means to express oneself. A massive shift is needed in the industry to push towards being more environmental. Events like the green carpet awards help push this agenda ~ I feel optimistic that the fashion industry can change to be what they need to be for a sustainable future and I aim to do what I can to contribute to that ! I love any suggestions from my audience of what more I can do ❤️🌍❤️🌧

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Iris Law donned a colorful M Missoni gown made of recycled plastic bottles and upcycled Missoni thread.

Author Tomi Adeyemi wore a Valentino blazing orange chiffon organza GOTS-certified wrap dress, along with Valentino Archive gloves.

Spanish actress Esther Acebo wore a custom, one-of-kind Missoni sequin gown made by fabric upcycled from the Spring Summer 2000 collection.

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Honored to be included in this year’s @ecoage #GCFAltalia 2020 with @cameramoda . This year’s Green Carpet looks a little different – clearly shoes are optional – but #sustainablestyle is a must. Thank you for asking me to speak on the importance of regenerative fashion and reusing what we already own. Rewearing fashion to award shows is a delicate and often taboo topic in the fashion industry that inevitably ends up trickling down into society’s addiction to fashion, but we are here to change the stigma and showcase the versatility one piece can have for a lifetime. I first wore this @etro dress in 2015 at the #cannes film festival, and have cherished it ever since. It is my only piece from Etro, and I treasure it. I have taken care of the delicate threads, and worn it again and again throughout the years. Fashion cannot be disposable, bottom line. We must buy less but buy better, whatever that means to you personally. Fast fashion and seasonal trends will soon be a thing of the past as we work hard to make rewearing garments the new hot trend. Watch the Green Carpet Awards with me today on YouTube’s fashion channel at 2 PM PT. 🌱🌎🌱

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“Twilight” actress Nikki Reed re-wore a long-sleeve,  backless, boho-inspired floor-length dress from the Etro Fall/Winter 2015 collection she first showed off at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. gave an exclusive introduction to the show while wearing a black vegan Armani tuxedo. He was joined by his wife Susan who also wore an Armani blazer and Stella McCartney vegan heels.

Watch the full Green Carpet Fashion Awards