VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 28: (L to R) Livia Firth, Carlo Capasa and Iman pose with Gondoliers at The Green Carpet Fashion Awards lunch, hosted by CNMI and Eco-Age, at Belmond Cipriani Hotel on August 28, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Pic Credit: Dave Benett

VENICE — It’s become a tradition by now. Organizers of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia once again met at the luxurious Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice to reveal a new development for the event on Wednesday, the first day of the city’s international Film Festival. This time, a group of gondoliers almost stole the scene, which included the likes of Rupert Everett and Iman Abdulmajid — the recipient the evening before of the Franca Sozzani Award, which recognizes women who stand out for their artistic careers and their social commitment.

Launching the third edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, to be held on Sept. 22 at the La Scala Theater in Milan and closing fashion week, Carlo Capasa, chairman of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, and Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age, revealed that Venice’s famous gondoliers will be honored with the Eco-Stewardship Award for their use of responsibly sourced merino wool in their striped uniforms — a globally recognizable staple that has contributed to build the city’s imagery.

Firth said that, joining forces with the Woolmark Co. and Venetian design house Emilio Ceccato in 2018, the gondoliers wear Australian merino wool, “a versatile fiber which is both 100 percent natural and renewable. The gondoliers returning to the use of this natural material after a near 100-year hiatus has exposed a natural fiber of huge importance to a global estimated audience of 26 million to 30 million visitors a year.”

The Association of Venetian Gondoliers comprises 433 registered gondoliers who now wear the blue and white stripe uniform that is made up of a T-shirt, sweater and quilted vest made of merino wool as they navigate their way through the city’s canals.

Colette Garnsey, chairman of Australian Wool Innovation, parent company of the Woolmark Co., said the job of gondoliers “requires high-level physical performance in extremely variable weather conditions. The return to merino wool usage confirms the ability of this natural fiber to respond to their needs.”

The Woolmark Co.’s global strategy adviser, Fabrizio Servente, said the gondoliers’ job is “the most ecological in the world, and they thought of completing this sustainable image moving away from synthetics to the most natural and performing material and we are very happy to promote and associate with this choice.” Servente added, “Despite a common way of thinking, wool is cool in summer, transpiring and naturally isothermic.”

Capasa expressed his pride in confirming the third edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards event, which highlights “the innovators, disruptors and game-changers of a fashion industry at the forefront of a sustainable future.” Italy’s fashion association “has been working non-stop for years now to implement substantial change not only with the Italian brands but with the overall fashion industry including the many mills and factories which make the brand Made in Italy famous all over the world,” he added.

Last year at the Hotel Cipriani, Capasa and Firth unveiled the Green Carpet Fashion Awards statuette created by Chopard. The ethical gold piece depicts a woman, whose long braid is produced in Fairmined-certified ethical gold with a robe made of aluminum to lend a lighter touch. The statue is completed with a thermoformed glass cape and engravings of a golden apple tree.

The Camera della Moda, in collaboration with Eco-Age, and with the support of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Italian Trade Agency and the patronage of the Municipality of Milan, established the world’s first Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia in 2017, celebrating the commitment of fashion houses to sustainability. That first edition rewarded designers ranging from Giorgio Armani and Alessandro Michele to Piccioli, Tom Ford and Miuccia Prada, among others, and both the first and second editions have drawn celebrities and models including Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Dakota Johnson, Cindy Crawford, Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta and Gisele Bündchen, to name a few.