During Sunday’s Academy Awards, The Artist star Missi Pyle managed to teal the show in an eco-friendly gown designed by Latina fashion design student Valentina Delfino.
The 25-year-old Venezuelan student at Ai Miami International University of Art & Design beat out hundreds of entries from around the world to win the Red Carpet Green Dress design contest, which required participants to make a gown of sustainable materials.
The contest was founded in 2009 by Suzy Amis Cameron, an ardent environmentalist and the wife of the Oscar-winning director James Cameron.
“I looked at the gowns that had won in previous years,” said Delfino about her creation. “A blue one won and a pink one won, so I pulled myself away from those colors. And then I thought about Mrs. Cameron; I put her in my mind. I didn’t know anything about sustainable fabrics. Finding information is harder than you think.”
But Delfino is a quick study! After some research, she decided to make the dress out of cruelty-free silk, called “silk peace chiffon,” meaning the worms that spun the material were not killed in the process of harvesting their silk. In addition, Delfino lined the dress with recycled polyester and used recycled zippers. She even chose a color from an OSHA-approved natural mineral dye.
“It was originally supposed to be in saffron,” Delfino admits. “But the actress had worn a similar color to the Golden Globes, so we had to change it to a pastel teal.”
Emmy-winning designer Birgit Muller mentored Delfino and supervised the creation of the dress, which could set a new eco-friendly trend, especially since Pyle is the first actress in an Oscar-nominated film to wear the annual competition’s winning design.
“There are so few clothing options that are eco-friendly, and [manufacturing] has a huge impact on our environment,” said Pyle at a fitting the day before the Oscars. “I’m so excited to be going on the red carpet in this gown!”
Pyle, Cameron, Muller and Valentina toasted their collaboration with a glass of champagne before making some last minute adjustments the gown to get it red carpet ready in hopes of stealing the spotlight and making an impact.
“Ultimately, Red Carpet Green Dress isn’t about beautiful gowns,” says Cameron. “It’s really about bringing awareness to the fact that we can be kind to the planet and still wear something really gorgeous — and to then take that a step further, for people to think about the carbon footprint of their everyday clothes.”
Meantime, Delfino who hopes to land an internship with the likes of Oscar de la Renta or Elie Saab when she graduates this December.