LONDON — What could be more British than Jonathan Anderson, Charlotte Tilbury and Martine Rose winning awards on a rainy winter’s evening at Royal Albert Hall?
The very British weather on Monday was a fitting backdrop for the Fashion Awards, a night that aimed to celebrate the nation’s talents — and international ones, too.
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Among the latter was Valentino Garavani, who won the Outstanding Achievement Award. His longtime friend and business partner Giancarlo Giammetti accepted the award from Gwyneth Paltrow, who swept into London for the occasion.
The event was a mix of high and low culture, with the evening presented by Maya Jama, famous as the host of the ITV2 show “Love Island,” and singer-songwriter Kojey Radical. The guest list included Jodie Comer, Taylor Russell, Andrew Garfield, Marina Abramović and Amal Clooney.
There was also a big dose of fun — which was missing from the stage last year.
Josh O’Connor handed Anderson his Designer of the Year award, the biggest one of the night.
“Watching this evening, I saw my life in front of my eyes,” said the designer, accepting his award for his work on JW Anderson and Loewe, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
O’Connor is the face of the brand’s spring 2024 pre-collection campaign, and was wearing a black tailored suit from Loewe.
Sarah Burton, who in September left her post at Alexander McQueen, where she spent her entire career, was handed the Special Recognition Award by Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s outgoing editor in chief.
“McQueen for me has always been about feelings. It’s often been said by many people that you will never forget how people made you feel,” said an emotional Burton, wearing one of her own designs with Levi’s jeans.
British Ghanaian actress and writer Michaela Coel was the recipient of the Pandora Leader of Change Award, presented by Pandora ambassador Pamela Anderson, who walked the red carpet in an all-white tailored trousers and jacket ensemble — and no makeup.
Coel, whose stylist is Georgia Medley, wore a custom white strappy crop top and long skirt by Maximilian Davis for Ferragamo.
“The system may have failed me, but maybe it will succeed for someone else somewhere else. I want to say thank you, to my audience, because in your openness to allowing my work to change you, you have given my pain meaning,” said the actress and screenwriter in a powerful speech that addressed her experience of sexual assault, which is depicted in the show she wrote and starred in, “I May Destroy You.”
Sam Smith accepted the Cultural Innovator Award onstage from actor and writer Lena Dunham. They also put on a special performance with a choir.
The nonbinary artist showed up in a memorable red-carpet outfit — a voluminous black dress with tulle designed by Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, that made just as much noise as their dramatic Latex ensemble designed by Harri that Smith wore to the Brit Awards earlier this year.
“Two years ago, I remember expressing to my family and friends that it was a dream of mine to one day stand up at the Royal Albert Hall stage in a gown, and sing my heart,” said the pop star.
“There is no clothing in the world that fits quite as good as freedom,” they added.
The 91-year-old Valentino Garavani won for his “groundbreaking couture creations” and red carpet gowns. His old friend Paltrow handed Giammetti the award.
Referring to Valentino, she said “he would always ask me about Hollywood, especially the men I dated; he never really approved of anyone until he met my husband Brad Falchuk. And he hated that I didn’t like to wear red. So tonight, I wear red for Mr. Valentino.”
Accepting the award on behalf of Valentino, Giammetti pledged 200,000 pounds for British fashion students.
“I know exactly what it means to start a business. It’s so difficult and so stressful to everyone around you,” he said before a brief fashion show highlighting Valentino’s most famous designs in the designer’s signature red.
London-native Tilbury took to the stage in a sparkly black gown with her signature strawberry colored hair to accept her Special Recognition Award from Clooney, who wore a strapless sequin Atelier Versace gown.
“I booked her for my wedding makeup trial and I was aghast because she showed up at my front door with five massive suitcases of products,” said the international human rights lawyer.
In her speech, Tilbury thanked Kate Moss, Tom Ford, Mert and Marcus, Katie Grand, Mario Testino, Mary Greenwell and the late Hugh Devlin, the go-to lawyer for members of the British fashion industry, who died in October.
“Makeup has the power to change our energy, to give us the confidence to live a life without limits and to pursue our biggest, boldest dreams,” said the makeup artist.
Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the BFC, had said earlier that what’s so special about this year’s nominees is that they are a “true representation of British creative energy and its impact on the fashion industry globally.”
“We invited key press and buyers with an in-depth industry knowledge to define the shortlist of nominees and the list of names selected illustrates the wealth and breadth of design talent coming out of the U.K. right now,” she added.
Two categories were introduced at this year’s award show: New Establishment Menswear and New Establishment Womenswear, which are meant to highlight up-and-coming talent.
Bianca Saunders took the gong for New Establishment Menswear, thanking her peers and family.
“I remember being 19 and getting tickets to see all these amazing designers who were celebrated,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chopova Lowena was awarded with the New Establishment Womenswear award.
Another young Brit winner on the night was Davis, winning British Womenswear Designer of the Year for his work at Ferragamo, a post he’s been in since March last year.
“I want to thank my CEO Marco Gobbetti for trusting me with such a big brand,” said the young designer.
In the men’s category, Martine Rose collected the award for British Menswear Designer of the Year for her own label presented. The award was presented to her by rapper and singer Little Simz.
Model of the Year winner was Paloma Elsesser, who in the last year has walked for Balenciaga, Michael Kors and Chloé.
Campbell Addy, the photographer, director and publisher, received the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator. It was presented by Ib Kamara and Jourdan Dunn, who resembled Nefertiti in her black velvet gown fit with an Egyptian-style headdress.
“Please have the audacity to change minds and create new worlds to push boundaries so that the conversation can move forward for the next generations to prosper and to also learn from,” said Addy.
The Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator is meant to recognize innovators and creatives in fashion who have helped to change the fashion landscape. Previous winners include Ib Kamara, Katie Grand, Amanda Harlech, Mert and Marcus, Nick Knight, Pat McGrath, Louise Wilson and Sam McKnight.
Enninful, who will begin his role as global creative and cultural adviser of Vogue next year, took home the Trailblazer Award presented to him by Comer and Croydon-born artist Stormzy.
“You’re probably sick of seeing me up here,” said Enninful.
He added: “We were seeing great changes in Britain at the time [he took his helm]. It felt like the stars were aligned for me to channel this onto the pages of British Vogue.”
Enninful thanked Dame Judi Dench, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Olivia Colman and the Newhouse family.
Conner Ives picked up the BFC Foundation Award, a charity that supports education, grant-giving and business mentoring. In fiscal 2022-23, the BFC said it remitted more than 1.2 million pounds in funds to designers and scholars.
The BFC honored the late designer Joe Casely-Hayford with a new scholarship and a posthumous special recognition collected by the designer’s son, Charlie.
The 2023-24 BFC Foundation Joe Casely-Hayford MA scholarship offers funding to students with a Black or mixed heritage. They need to have an offer from, or be studying for, an MA at a BFC member university in the U.K. This year’s recipient is Taya Francis.
The scholarship is meant to highlight Casely-Hayford’s contributions to the industry and recognize Black British culture and its influence on wider British culture.
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