Fashion 4 Development (F4D) founder Evie Evangelou welcomed guests to The Pierre in New York on Monday night, inviting key influencers, royals (such as Queen Rania of Jordan) VIPs and celebrities. Evangelou started the proceedings by introducing 'Leading Ladies' – “influential women committed to making a difference on critical issues demanding attention,” – a new project that F4D will launch later this year. Italian heiress Beatrice Borromeo who married Pierre Casiraghi in Monaco this summer is expected to be the first to be named as a F4D 'Leading Lady'.
F4D will soon be taking part in the World Climate Summit, staging a sustainability-focused fashion. It will also present F4D Solutions – to help designers find sustainable solutions for ethical sourcing in support of fair-trade standards, Evangelou said.
Livia Firth spoke of the 60 million people employed by the fashion industry, most of whom are women noting: “we never think about them when we buy our clothes.” Adding “They live in misery, work terrible hours, struggle to see their children, let alone send them to school — completely stuck in a circle of poverty.”
“Brands choose the countries that simply offer the lowest wages and the least regulation of labor conditions. The shift toward faster and more flexible production and lower prices has now reached a point that is unsustainable. So today, with your help, First Ladies, let’s call for a transnational agreement on wages and compliance procedures.” Firth said. “Rather than go country by country, we need to unite. It should never, ever be permissible for any company or any brand to exploit women in the name of cheapest production. And states should never, ever be forced to keep wages at an unacceptable level in order to attract and maintain business.”
“I’m educating myself and I’m just doing whatever I can do to raise awareness and to try to make a difference.” Victoria Beckham told the crowd after receiving her award from Livia Firth.
Chinese designer Guo Pei showcased her creations to the event's guests, including the standout Rihanna-worn gold gown from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s China: Through the Looking Glass. She also ensured that some of the key issues were heard by some influential ears – inviting 20-plus Chinese executives who were said to have flown in to see her runway show.
Livia Firth and Franca Sozzani