“Fashion for Planet Open Parliament”, a civic parliament convened by art for fashion and the planet in Milan
Fashion met sustainability in a mosaic of collective exchanges: during Milan Fashion Week, the National Chamber of Italian Fashion and Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T. proposed an open parliament in the Sala del Parlamentino of Palazzo Giureconsulti, which for the occasion became a space for listening to the "voices of nature". The initiative saw the participation of philosophers, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists, designers, students and people from all walks of life and sectors who spoke with, for and on behalf of the planet. “Clothes are our second skin,” said Michelangelo Pistoletto, “we must be creatively responsible”.

On Thursday 23 February, during Milan Fashion Week, in the heart of the fashion and design capital: a stone’s throw from the Duomo, stands the city’s oldest convention centre, Palazzo Giureconsulti. The location, for 400 years at the centre of the social, economic and cultural life of the Lombard capital, hosted Fashion For Planet Open Parliament, a civic parliamentary session called by fashion to share testimonies and activate a dialogue with the planet. The event, proposed by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion and Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T., was held in its Sala del Parlamentino. Through art and fashion, an impromptu parliament was opened, a place for declarations, where anyone had their chance to share intentions, suggestions and proposals. It also turned out to be an opportunity to talk about the future, rethinking what sustainability is today through a heterogeneous collection of voices – both live and streamed in – and positions on this issue. The plurality of speakers was the actual added value of the day: philosophers, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists, designers, students and people from every sphere of the social fabric took turns; the members of the audience were from different professions and generations as well. The modalities of expression and languages were diverse too: in addition to testimonies, reflections and anecdotes, some participants symbolically became spokespersons for nature, speaking on behalf of plants, animals, rivers, air, seas, coastlines, mountains and forests, offering their specific answers to one of the key questions around which the day revolved: “How do we behave with the planet that is the common home of all life on Earth?”.

Top picture: Beatrice Casalini, Paolo Naldini, Olga Pirazzi, Michele Cerruti But.
Middle picture: Carlo Capasa, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Paolo Naldini.
Bottom picture: il Parlamentino.

Opening the parliament were Carlo Capasa, president of the National Chamber of Fashion, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Paolo Naldini, director of Cittadellarte. Capasa began by highlighting the collaboration with Cittadellarte: “The parliament is open, an exceptional event which we will experience alongside a national treasure, Michelangelo Pistoletto. The artist is a true advocate for sustainability. Our collaboration with the Pistoletto Foundation already developed during the CNMI Sustainable Awards, when the Third Paradise was chosen as the symbol and icon of the event and the reproductions of the Venus of Rags as the prize. As Chamber of Fashion, we also deal with educational issues and Cittadellarte is doing a great job in this field”. Present at the event were also three out of the four winners of the full scholarships for Accademia Unidee’s three-year courses in Sustainable Fashion, offered thanks to the support of the Camera Moda Fashion Trust, a non-profit initiative that supports the new generation of creatives, represented by Umberta Gnutti Beretta and Warly Tomei as co-founder and co-chairman of the advisory committee. “We support young designers based in Italy,” they said, “helping them set up their businesses in a sustainable way. With this in mind, we are happy to cooperate with Cittadellarte and Accademia Unidee, since they do a great job on sustainability. The bond between us and them could not be stronger”.

Top picture: Umberta Gnutti Beretta, Warly Tomei and Paolo Naldini.
Middle picture: the scholarship grantees (Paula Arbach, Francesca Acquadro and Francesca Del Pizzo) con Francesco Monico and Paolo Naldini.
Bottom picture: Michele Cerruti But.

Back to the speeches, Capasa’s speech was followed by Paolo Naldini‘s: “Today we are going to experience an exceptional session of a civic parliament convened by art for fashion and the planet, and we are also celebrating our collaboration with the World Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the International Court for the Rights of Nature. The declaration session will enable an ineffable dialogue between fashion and nature. How did we get here, and why? When CNMI invited us to curate an event as part of Fashion Week in the Sala del Parlamentino of Palazzo Giureconsulti, we brought together the creative team of Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T., in the person of its manager Olga Pirazzi, and our Academy of Sustainable Fashion, and we extrapolated these four key points: the parliament, the giureconsulti, the Fashion Week and the idea of fashion for the planet. The first key concept is the one of parliament. Or rather, “parlamentino”. Which means small parliament, i.e. a meeting of a few people who speak and decide on laws, rules, proposals and programmes. But what is it for? Don’t we already have institutional parliaments? In recent years, at Cittadellarte we have understood a simple but revolutionary truth: every organisation that brings individuals together constitutes a small government, a small parliament. Because in it decisions are taken that will have an enormous impact on the real, concrete lives of the people who belong to that organisation. Therefore,” he continued, “small parliaments exist, and they are the enzyme of society. We give ourselves rules, we define them and pass them on, we build buildings and cities on the basis of laws that we ourselves have invented, the whole world that we humans have created is based on laws, written or unwritten. They are everywhere. All the more so here, since we are in the Palace of the Jurisconsults, who, in ancient Rome, were creators of laws as well as experts in them. It is time for everyone to take on this privilege, to create laws. You cannot do it alone: you need places to gather and groups willing to take responsibility for creating the laws. That is, we need small parliaments. In this small parliament, numerous speakers will come to make their parliamentary statements and will be led, with the time constraints of parliamentary protocol, into sessions of debate and discussion”.

In the pictures, talking to the moderator Michele Cerruti But, from the top: Matteo Ward, Maria Teresa Pisani, Beatrice Catanzaro

Michelangelo Pistoletto talked about the start of Cittadellarte’s commitment to sustainable fashion: “In 1994, I connected art with the spheres of life through a call addressed to artists, i.e. Progetto Arte. Cittadellarte developed from it, dealing also with the binomial art-fashion. In ’95, for example, at the Luigi Pecci Museum of Contemporary Art in Prato, during the Florence Fashion Festival, Cittadellarte was the only one to present sustainable fashion with the exhibition Habitus, abito, abitare. Clothing is our second skin: mankind began to communicate with paintings, then with its own skin, dressing itself, to fight the cold or the weather. Once it was a defence for the body” he said, “today it is called fashion. Clothing is a precise sign of time: we can retrace the history of humanity through costume. However, we have to deal with the fashion industry, which has brought marvels, but also a degradation that accompanies wealth in a worrying way. How will we dress and invest in our future? What has been done must be transformed into new investments for new profits in a sustainable way. This is a huge commitment, which concerns a common parliament. We all have to be creatively responsible”. Pistoletto then discussed the Venus of Rags, The Reintegrated Apple, the metaverse and The Formula of Creation, the title of his latest book. This publication indirectly played a pivotal and inspiring role during the parliamentary session: throughout the day, the graphics of the book’s cover, i.e. the Third Paradise, Pistoletto’s signature and the title of the work were projected behind the speakers.

Top picture: the poster for the initiative.
Middle picture: Michelangelo Pistoletto and Cristina Gabetti.
Bottom picture: Michele Cerruti But, Beatrice Casalini, Sara Sozzani Maino, Matteo Ward, Olga Pirazzi, Tiziano Guardini, Paolo Naldini.

This was followed by a series of speeches, moderated by Michele Cerruti But, academic coordinator of Accademia Unidee; Cerruti But not only introduced the guests, but also offered periodic and effective summaries of the content that emerged during the speeches. After an introduction to the Accademia by its director Francesco Monico, a lively succession of voices shaped the day on the parliamentary platform. The leitmotif of the connection between sustainable fashion and nature was spread over several topics. Here are a few. Clara Pogliani, activist of Ci sarà un bel clima (We will have a good climate), focused on climate justice and the fight against fossil fuels (“Change does not only start from the actions of individuals but from collective responsibility”); Andrea Montanari, Associate Professor of Private Law at the Mercatorum University of Rome, focused on Earth Overshoot Day (“The fashion world has enormous influence: it must also be inclusive towards nature”); Giuliana Setari, President of Cittadellarte, spoke on the role of art and fashion (“Human beings express themselves through fashion, and art helps us face life”); Michela Prisco, lawyer of counsel from Pavia and Ansaldo legal offices, focused on a critical legislative issue affecting our country (“Italy is currently the only country that does not have a climate law”); Ercole Botto, MD of Reda and President of Confindustria Moda, turned the spotlight on the definition of sustainability and its reputational aspect (“There is no official definition, everyone interprets it in their own way. Another problem is that people in the fashion industry are rarely willing to invest in sustainability, also because those who commit themselves to ethics often do so only to defend the reputation of their brand”); Flavia La Rocca, streamed in, offered a testimony of the link with her field of expertise, as did other fashion designers who spoke (“Fashion is self-expression”); Sara Sozzani Maino, Creative Talent Curator & International Brand Ambassador CNMI, went beyond the concept of sustainability (“The key word is no longer just sustainability, but responsibility”). This was just a small taste of the different speeches: we will soon publish each individual contribution so as to bring out the voices of all the speakers in their entirety and complexity. In spite of the diversity of the points of view, there was one element that brought them all together: art, which can be the true inspiration for triggering a change in society in a responsible direction, also through a process of empathic raising of awareness on the subject of sustainability.