F4D Pitches Living Sustainably as the New Fashion at Inaugural Banquet

·5 min read

NEW YORK — From start to finish, Fashion 4 Development’s inaugural Sustainable Goals banquet Thursday night at the Pierre Hotel was an all-out effort to demonstrate how “sustainable living is the new fashion.”

Aside from being the slogan for F4D’s new global campaign, that provided a starting point to discuss fashion choices, lifestyle practices and the circular economy. Guests hoping to chat with their tablemates over the plant-based Il Gattopardo-prepared dinner were largely out of luck. With a nonstop program that included 20-plus speeches, video messages, film clips, movie trailers, several fashion presentations and two musical performances, the case for living sustainably was hammered home.

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Instead of rattling off statistics about the fashion industry’s impact on the environment or the hazards of climate change, a good deal of the evening’s remarks and other content illustrated how individual choice can generate collective change.

Held in advance of Sunday’s United Nations Day, the dinner was held in cooperation with the United Nations Mission of Italy and Permanent Representative Ambassador Maurizio Massari. The Ethical Fashion Initiative was among the supporting partners its founder Simone Cipriani, who also serves as chairperson of the U.N. Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, spoke of the urgency for change.

After welcoming the crowd, F4D founder Evie Evangelou explained that she had first brought fashion to the U.N. in 2011, after convincing then-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to do. That led to the creation of F4D in cooperation with his office. The organization was set up in part to support the Millennium Development Goals, which are now the U.N. Sustainable Goals.

“Everyone at that time thought, ‘This is crazy. What is she talking about?’” Using fashion as a means of diplomacy is no longer a far flung idea. “Who is laughing now?” Evangelou asked.

Certainly not Abdulla Shahid, president of the UN General Assembly, who was seated at a front row table. Thursday’s event played up fashion, food, film and finance. Instead of bookending the stage with urns overflowing with flowers, there were two models each wearing “living art hair sculptors” — essentially colorful floral displays by the artist Peter D. Brown, who was photographing the scene. During the pre-dinner Champagne reception, one attendee made the rounds with an introduction of “the Upper East Side’s official dog walker with clients like Tory Burch.”

Maurizio Massari and Abdulla Shahid - Credit: Courtesy of F4D
Maurizio Massari and Abdulla Shahid - Credit: Courtesy of F4D

Courtesy of F4D

There were at-home video cameos by Livia Firth, Gisele Bündchen, Sherri Goodman, senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Polar Initiative and Earth Day Network’s president Kathleen Rogers, among others. Guests caught a video showing the planned restoration of Pompeii’s largest leather tannery. Major League Baseball’s Chase Utley and other pro athletes offered a Switch4Good PSA — “Fight climate change with diet change.” The event’s program included a pitch for animals by Veterinarians International.

Did we mention Skybridge Capital’s Anthony Scaramucci took to the podium briefly with a New-York-is-back message? Asked by a guest, “‘Are we keeping Columbus?’” Scaramucci said, “Of course, we’re keeping Columbus. We’re getting rid of [outgoing New York City Mayor Bill] de Blasio.”

Fashion and lifestyle pieces from Linea Pelle and ReClothe were on display. Intermittently between courses, models passed by at different points wearing styles by Burnett New York and Citizen T. Photographer Steven Klein, Prada Group’s Marcelo Noschese, Fashion Institute of Technology President Joyce Brown, Breanna Box and designer Helen Yarmak were among the fashion-minded guests.

Steven Klein - Credit: Courtesy of F4D
Steven Klein - Credit: Courtesy of F4D

Courtesy of F4D

Before a trailer for the Firth-supported Renaissance Awards was shown followed by a clip of her new documentary “Fashion Scapes,” Firth reminded attendees that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez said (in August) the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change report was a “code red for humanity.” Firth said, “The only thing that we can do is work together — governments, businesses….We all are citizens. Only through the power of each one of us can we really and truly achieve all of the Sustainability Goals. Sustainability is a multifaceted conversation. It’s not just about planting trees or composting. It’s also about millions of people and the social impact and aspects of everything that we do. We need to work together.”

Massari said, “Certainly sustainability affects all the sectors of our lives — production, consumption, distribution, connectivity, what we eat, how we dress, move, work and spend our leisure time. All of that has a negative impact on how the world and the planet evolves.” He emphasized how sustainability affects all the areas of the economy, with fashion being one of the main ones.

Sustainability leads to good health, education, clean water, clean energy, sustainable seas and other dimensions, he said. “It’s an opportunity to foster societies and trust, and to unify with a positive agenda.”

Evie Evangelou - Credit: Courtesy of F4D
Evie Evangelou - Credit: Courtesy of F4D

Courtesy of F4D

While a few attendees made early exits, Evangelou encouraged attendees to stay through dessert and a surprise musical finale. Many did and were rewarded with a performance by pianist Harold O’Neal, who offered in between sets, “Music is a story. In every single one of us lies a story within us and the potential to be a storyteller. The way for us to make a difference in the world especially with what’s at stake and for us to feel [we can] save the world and make a difference with the environment is finding our true way to tell the stories that we’ve come to know. I encourage each and every one of you to think about, ‘What is your story with the environment?’”

Emmane Beasha performing at The Pierre. - Credit: Courtesy of F4D
Emmane Beasha performing at The Pierre. - Credit: Courtesy of F4D

Courtesy of F4D

In another unexpected twist, 13-year-old Emanne Beasha, the “America’s Got Talent” winner, accompanied O’Neal, starting off with “The Hills Are Alive.”

Afterward, as guests planned their retreats, one spoke of taking the subway for the first time in two years to get to the event. Others promised to be in touch. F4D Solutions’ managing director said excitedly, “It’s a collective — this is what we’re talking about.”

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