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Gisele Bundchen and Italy's fashion elite attend the inaugural fashion eco awards

Young designer wins big with dress made out of fishing nets and recovered plastic

Gisele Bundchen attends the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia 2017. Photograph: Getty
Carlo Capasa, Tiziano Guardini and Myriatte Gaeta at the Green Carpet Awards, La Scala, Milan.

“It’s the beginning of a new era,” said “Green Queen” Livia Firth, founder of Eco Ago from the stage of La Scala in Milan on Sunday night, standing alongside Carlo Capasa (chairman of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana) at a star-studded event to open the inaugural Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia.

The Oscars-style ceremony attracted titans of the Italian fashion industry as well as the super stylish. It highlighed the strength of the Made in Italy brand and took ownership of a commitment to sustainability along with the preservation of Italian heritage and craftsmanship.

Vittoria Puccini attends the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia 2017. Photograph: Getty

A young Italian designer Tiziano Guardini, who uses pine needles, sea shells and discarded CDs in his designs, won the Best Emerging Designer award with a colourful dress made from fringed fishing nets, plastics recovered from the sea and recycled nylon.

Guardini will now take part in a 12-month mentoring programme along with the other four finalists. He will also have the opportunity to present at Milan Fashion Week next February and his collection will debut at The Creative Spot boutique at Fidenza Village next month.

Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccoli and presenter Annie Lennox pose backstage. Photograph: Getty

In a rare display of community, designers Giorgio Armani, Miucca Prada, Alessandro Michele of Gucci and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino took to the stage to receive awards presented by Colin Firth. 

In a particularly moving moment, thirty seamstresses from Valentino’s 70-strong workforce, dressed in white coats, received a craftsmanship award presented by Annie Lennox.

Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bunchen, in a floor length green dress by Stella McCartney (made from sustainably sourced viscose from Sweden) received the Vogue Eco Laureate Award while the last person making sea silk, Chiara Vigo (the subject of a riveting recent BBC documentary) received the Artisanal Laureate Award to thunderous applause.

Gisele Bundchen on the green carpet. Photograph: Getty

There were awards for Fendi, Zegna and Gucci (presented by Arizona Muse). Anna Wintour presented Tom Ford with an award for Best International Designer Supporting Made in Italy and described the US designer as a visionary.

Stefania Rocca, Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and Livia Firth. Photograph: Getty

Italian companies are firing ahead in terms of recycling technologies – there is a factory making fabric from plastic bottles (“a bottle today is a dress tomorrow”) but it was Orange Fiber, a start up, creating fabric from orange fibres that took an innovation award while Amber Valletta presented Taroni with an award for sustainable production.

Guests arriving at the opera house amid huge security walked a green carpet made from recycled fishing nets and old carpets by ECONYL, many wearing green, the hot colour of the night. The awards themselves were beautiful pieces by Chopard made from fairmined gold and even young opera singers got the opportunity to shine opening the event with familiar arias from the great composers – Rossini, Puccini and Mozart to set the mood of the evening.