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The Fashion Awards, formerly the British Fashion Awards, have become one of the fashion industry’s most celebrated nights. As usual, the British Fashion Council, which runs the event, slowly drip-fed media over the last six weeks on this year’s developments: that Jack Whitehall and Alek Wek would host on December 10 at the Royal Albert Hall; that it would honour 100 trail-blazing young creatives from around the world; Miuccia Prada would be honoured with the Outstanding Achievement Award this year; Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, would receive the Special Recognition Award for Innovation; and Dior men’s British designer Kim Jones would receive the Trailblazer Award.
The disappearance of the word British in 2016 hadn’t changed much at first glance: Swarovski continued being the principal sponsor, and it remained a magnet for celebrities as well as the who’s who of fashion. New York has its Met Gala, London has the awards. There is some irony here as the awards were meant to paint London as a centre of global fashion, and for years they celebrated British culture, especially designers or personalities who had done the most to elevate the UK on to the world stage. These British Style Awards are no more, although specific awards honouring British designers continue. But from 2017, they were no longer the top awards of the evening.
Perhaps in a UK arguing over Brexit, the abandonment of British from the Fashion Awards’ name seemed prudent. The Awards want to be seen as global and cosmopolitan, in stark contrast to Brexit which tends to look more inwardly for its strength; and if that helps British designers secure a future on the world stage, then so be it.
This year’s celebrations saw 4,000 head to the Royal Albert Hall, with 15 awards conferred, voted by 2,000 key industry players. Five Special Recognition Awards were also given. Swarovski, of course, provided the trophies, designed by Sir David Adjaye. The company also pledged £300,000 in advance of the event to support the British Fashion Council’s Education Foundation.
Eva Herzigová hosted the red carpet interviews this year. The arrivals were streamed live on YouTube, with an embed on the Fashion Awards’ website.
Robert Pattinson presented Kim Jones’s Trailblazer award early in proceedings. The Urban Luxe award, presented by Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, was won by Virgil Abloh for Off-White. Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga was named Accessories’ Designer of the Year (presented by Edie Campbell and Riz Ahmed); and Dame Vivienne Westwood was delighted to receive her Swarovski Award for Positive Change from Jerry Hall. Gucci’s Marco Bizzarri was named Business Leader this year, presented by Saoirse Ronan.
Parley for the Oceans deserves a special mention here in Lucire, for being the organization that highlights not only the finite resource we have in our oceans, and the plastics polluting them, but for encouraging people to find ways to make some real change. Its AIR strategy (avoid plastic, intercept waste, and redesign the material) plays a part in Parley’s Ocean Plastic, a means of disrupting the plastic that winds up in the ocean. It’s a small start, and the plastic has wound up in products from Adidas, with numerous football teams making the conscious change to switch to Ocean Plastic in their kits. The Council notes that Parley’s partnership with Adidas earned over US$1,000 million in revenue. Parley also teamed up with Stella McCartney, who released footwear made from Ocean Plastic; earlier this year it collaborated with Porter magazine and Anja Rubik on a series of products made from the material.
Doutzen Kroes, who makes very regular appearances with her active modelling career, presented the award to Parley for the Oceans’ Gutsch.
Of the British emerging talent awards, Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall received the menswear award from Virgil Abloh and Winnie Harlow, and Richard Quinn received the womenswear one from Karen Elson and Matthew Healy.
The top British awards of the night went to Craig Green for Craig Green, who was named British Designer of the Year for menswear; and to Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, named British Designer of the Year for womenswear. Poppy Delevingne presented the award to Green. As a surprise presenter, a pregnant HRH the Duchess of Sussex, the former Meghan Markle, joined Rosamund Pike in presenting the award to Waight Keller, particularly fitting given that it was Waight Keller who designed the Duchess’s wedding dress.
In the past, the British Designer of the Year gongs would have been the culmination of the evening, but the fact that special awards came afterwards shows how the Fashion Awards have changed their focus.
Mert & Marcus took home the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator (presented by Kate Moss and Penélope Cruz).
Gucci was named Brand of the Year, with Lana Del Rey presenting the award; and Rita Ora presented the Model of the Year award to Kaia Gerber, who has taken her mother Cindy Crawford’s lead and entered the industry herself. Uma Thurman and British film director Steve McQueen presented Miuccia Prada’s award.
The final award of the night was Designer of the Year—forget Britain’s place here. Last year it was Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, as the Fashion Awards redefined itself away from Britain. This year, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli received his award from Brooke Shields—the new top honour of the night.
Entertainment was provided by Ellie Goulding (who performed ‘Natural Woman’), and Boy George (with a tribute to Judy Blame and Michael Howells) for the finalé. Fat Tony DJed the after-party.
VIPs attending included Suzy Menkes, Asta Valentaite, Aquaria, Caroline Issa, Alice Naylor-Leyland, Roksanda Ilinčić, Emma McQuiston, Presley Gerber, Sinéad Burke, Niomi Smart, Derek Blasberg and Edie Campbell, Martha Ward, Dame Natalie Massenet, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix, Lady Amelia Windsor, Tamara Beckwith, Lily McMenamy, Jess Glynne, Laura Bailey, Alexa Chung, Jodie Kidd, Erdem Moralioglu, Alison Loehnis, Kendall Jenner, Gabrielle Caunesil, Damson Idris, Carey Mulligan, Rita Ora, Paloma Faith, Erin O’Connor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Beckham and Victoria Beckham, Martha Hunt, Jenna Coleman, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josephine Skriver, Olivia Palermo, Giles Decon, Neelam Gill, Cindy Bruna, Sara Sampaio, Arizona Muse, Suki Waterhouse, Jourdan Dunn, Georgia May Jagger, Lilah Parsons, Bianca Brandolini d’Adda and Alexandre Arnault, Michael Halpern, Naomie Harris, Hamish Bowles, Lauren Santo Domingo, Caroline Rush, Stephanie Phair, Nadja Swarovski, Saffron Vadher, Hannah Weiland, Charli Howard, Felicity Hayward, Siobhan Bell, Fran Summers, and Caroline Daur.
Additional sponsors were American Express, Bird in Hand, Digital Domain, Getty Iamges, Lavazza, Mercedes-Benz, Rosewood London, Slingsby Gin, and YouTube.
At the showMike Marsland, Tristan Fewings, Jeff Spicer, John Phillips, Joe Maher