As Suzy Amis Cameron toured the world’s red carpets in support of her husband’s (director James Cameron) 2009 blockbuster, Avatar, the sustainability activist realized the potential opportunity in front of her to change the way Hollywood views high fashion. Today, her fashion campaign, Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD), challenges young designers to create a red-carpet-worthy dress and now, tuxedo, in an environmentally responsible way with sustainable fabrics and materials. The organization then gives the winners the opportunity to be mentored by an established fashion brand and get his or her designs worn on the Academy Awards’ red carpet with all profits from entry fees benefitting California’s MUSE School. Now six years running, notable names involved include designer Vivienne Westwood and actor Kellan Lutz. We chatted with Cameron to learn more.
gb&d: I understand that touring the world’s red carpets with your husband in support of Avatar inspired you to create the contest. I also know that the two of you have been huge players in the realm of environmental causes for quite some time. Have you always incorporated green fashion into your own wardrobe, and is there a specific memory you have related to when the idea for this contest arose?
Amis Cameron: When I reflect on the moment that I started thinking more consciously about the clothes that I wear every day, I go back to my modeling days when I started to make my own money and invest in clothes. For the most part, I purchased things of very high quality with simple designs that I could wear over and over. I still have clothes that I purchased while living in Paris from the ages of 17-21 that I wear regularly.
I now am very careful about what I purchase. I choose very classic and simple lines so that I will be able to wear them when I am 80. While it is still very difficult, I am hopeful that designers become more aware and there is more demand for green fashion, so that I can find great environmentally friendly clothes to wear very day.
gb&d: Can you explain this part of the contest in more detail: “The winning designers are mentored by an established fashion brand within the fashion industry to get his or her design worn on the red carpet by a surprise actress and actor”? What does that mentorship look like in practice?
Amis Cameron: The winners are taken under the wing of the designer and given guidance on the construction and, in some cases, physically assisted. You have to remember these are young students winning, so the mentorship element is important to help ensure the gown or tuxedo delivered are made to The Oscars red carpet standard. The mentor is supposed to take a background supportive role to the students—it is still all about the winners and their design concept.
gb&d: Do you think eco-consciousness in the fashion industry is an issue at large? What changes do you hope to see in the future?
Amis Cameron: Obviously, yes. We all have a long way to go, but projects like RCGD are important steps in the right direction when it comes to awareness and educating on the possibilities in a range of areas from safe dyeing to the use of recycled or repurposed materials and getting sustainability in more mainstream conversations—all aspects we hope to see vast improvements in for coming years.