After Lily Allen for New Look and the car crash that was Lindsay Lohan's brief tenure at Emanuel Ungaro, you'd be forgiven for thinking celebrity fashion collaborations were a tasteless marketing technique more in keeping with the days of It-bags and Big Brother than with a more sober, post-Crunch vision of responsible mass consumption. So when 28-year-old Natalie Portman launched a range of vegan shoes (that's to say no leather or other animal products, rather than that they're edible) for green label Te Casan, she too came in for a certain amount of scorn and mockery. But the stylish Mary-Janes and court shoes that she created for the eco-tailor were created with the integrity and drive that marks most of her initiatives – and all profits were donated to environmental charities.
The actress has maintained a level of privacy and normality despite her stardom – she completed a psychology degree at Harvard while filming the Star Wars prequels, and even had two undergraduate papers published in respected journals. A vegetarian since childhood, she turned wholly vegan after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals last year, and is a keen supporter of Peta. In 2007, she travelled to Rwanda to film the documentary Gorillas on the Brink, and has also fought to highlight issues of child malnutrition. Her work with Finca raised money for impoverished women to set up their own businesses, while her endorsement of the OneVoice Movement has brought the potential of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a wider audience. Having announced her resolution to carbon-neutralise all her journeys, it's clear she isn't your average starlet.
Harriet Walker is The Independent's fashion writer