Milan Fashion Week is a circus of beauty and style - the stage on which the fashion world brings its dreams to life. This year, however, Greenpeace Italy opened proceedings with drama of a different kind: climbers unveiled a 100 sq metre banner in the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, exposing the toxic nightmare behind the dreams luxury brands like Versace sell us.
As the banner was unveiled above, on the ground, thousands of passers-by snapped the event on their phones and spoke to our volunteers. They joined the tens of thousands sharing this story online around the world all united in asking Versace to commit to toxic-free fashion.
Wrong answer, Versace
This morning, Versace came back with an answer - unfortunately it was the wrong one.
The company declared they "operate in compliance with current laws regarding textile products," and that they will "continue to search for raw materials and eco-sustainable technology solutions, with even stricter requirements than those set out under the current laws, renewing its commitment to the sustainability of the planet".
These norms are mandatory - meeting a legal requirement is hardly something to brag about. This supposed trendsetter is hiding its lack of action behind a superficial answer; deceiving its consumers with words and no action.
Complying with the law is the bare minimum, it's time this brand asked itself a few hard questions.
- Is it OK to use dangerous chemicals to make your clothes, substances that pollute our water and can pose health risks to humans and animals once in our environment?
- Is it OK to sell clothes in Europe that contain residues of these substances?
- Is it OK to hide this toxic nightmare behind dreamlike images and avoid coming clean about your supply chain and its impact on the environment and local communities?
Is this really the image that Versace - a brand that prides itself on being at the forefront of fashion - wants to give its customers?
Fashionable dreams, toxic reality
Over the past two days, tens of thousands of parents, activists and fashion fans have sent the message to Versace: Detox now on behalf of the future and the health of our children.
People are asking Versace do more than simply respect the law. People are asking that this brand be as ambitious and courageous as its beautiful designs and catwalk shows. Versace needs to push the limits and prove to the rest of the world that high fashion doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Versace, it's time to join the sector's real leaders - Valentino and Burberry - and commit to toxic-free fashion.
Join us in giving Versace a message loud and clear.
1. Go to Versace's Facebook page here.
2. Choose one of their posts
3. Leave a comment asking Versace to Detox NOW
4. Be sure to include this link in your comment: http://greenpeace.org/thekingisnaked
Chiara Campione is The Fashion Duel Project Leader (Twitter: @chiaracampione)
Lead image: Greenpeace activists unfurl a 100 square metre banner hanging from the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with the text "The King is Naked" heralding the start of Milan Fashion week in Milan, Italy. © Francesco Alesi / Greenpeace