Zendaya, Donatella Versace, John Legend and More Celebrate Green Carpet Fashion Awards

While this season’s awards shows have been somewhat devoid of political messaging, Livia Firth and the Green Carpet Fashion Awards are still giving voice to progressive causes during the most glitzy time of the year.

On Wednesday in Los Angeles, Firth gathered an starry group under the pitter-patter of rain on the tented rooftop of the 1 Hotel in for a vegetarian dinner and inspiring speeches, including Donatella Versace; Zendaya; John Legend; Chrissy Teigen; Annie Lennox; Quannah Chasinghorse; former Irish president Mary Robinson; garment worker and union leader Kalpona Akter; Ugandan presidential candidate and Oscar nominee Bobi Wine and his wife Barbie Kyagulanyi, and Greenland Indigenous climate activist and leader Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq.

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It was one of those incredible Hollywood nights.

Legend, honored for his FreeAmerica foundation’s work to end mass incarceration, broke into Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” at the podium, with Lennox raising her hands and mouthing the words from her seat.

Amber Valetta announced to guests they’d be “eating their jeans” for the main course, as pasta with tomatoes grown using compostable Candiani Coreva denim was served. (The same material was used to create her plastic-free stretch denim tuxedo dress designed by Triarchy.)

Jennifer Coolidge and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez jointly introduced Versace, with Rodriguez touchingly recounting how the designer greeted her kindly at the 2022 Met Gala.

“As a trans woman, a trans woman of color, you don’t know if there’s any space for you, and she showed me.…I was by a statue by myself and went up and she said hello and it was the warmest hello, and you don’t know how much hello can change someone’s perspective,” Rodriguez said.

“I have always tried to embrace change even when it felt very difficult to do it,” said Versace, accepting the Changemaker Award. “Change is a great teacher. We cannot grow without change. I’ve learned so much from my time spent with queer and transgender leaders and activists. I have seen love that has defied laws, political borders and institutional religions. I have spoken out in Italy, where gay couples are now forbidden from being a family. As you know, this hatred is now sweeping through the United States of America,” she said, noting the more than 400 pieces of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation that have been introduced, and the recent death of trans teen Nex Benedict. “This is an unspeakable tragedy. I’m being honored as a changemaker, so I hope you consider how you too can make the change we need.”

Robinson, U.N. high commissioner for human rights and U.N. special envoy on climate change, cofounder and chair of The Elders and founder of Project Dandelion, was honored for her climate work and demanded rich nations help vulnerable ones. “You just have to use your voice, use it effectively in the way you know how to do it. Hollywood is all about storytelling and breaking through,” she said.

Trudie Styler introduced Angakkorsuaq, who first noticed as a young boy that the Greenland ice mass was melting, and has made it his life’s work to tell the world about it. “My intention tonight is, if possible, to awaken this beautiful spirit of yours to become a custodian of our Earth. Without you, several billions will lose their homes in your lifetime. Listen to the sound of the wind, it will enter your heart, and it will melt the ice in your heart.”

Atker was recognized for fighting for worker safety and wages, rising from a sweatshop worker at age 12 to become founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity. She told guests, “When you are leaving this room tonight, I would say at least, take one action that is making a difference for the workers down the chain.”

Wine was recognized for leading a new generation to step up. The Ugandan presidential candidate is the subject of “Bobi Wine, the People’s President,” a film nominated for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday. “We inspire young people to think positively but most importantly, to take charge in a creative, fashionable and entertaining ways to change their thoughts and ultimately change the trajectory of their future,” he said.

The evening culminated in Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, on behalf of a group of young leaders, honoring U.N. Secretary General António Guterres for his courage, clarity of message and work on environmental and social justice. He accepted through a video message.

Firth said, “This incredible night is exactly why the Green Carpet Fashion Awards are different. Fashion and entertainment is our platform but we are in the business of transformation. This is how we move the narrative of the climate crisis, and this is how together we refashion the world.”

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