LONDON — “Fashion touches every country, continent and time zone. We need to use our power for good,” said Jodie Turner-Smith, who hosted the Fashion Awards here on Monday night.
The British and Jamaican activist and actor asked the crowd of hundreds gathered at Royal Albert Hall, “Can you imagine the fashion industry without the LGBTQIA+ community? Fashion stands with you and supports you in what has been a difficult and at times very f—ed up time.”
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She set the tone for the evening. This year’s awards ceremony held a mirror up to the past year’s events, focusing on the high achievers, in creativity — and social impact.
It was telling that this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award didn’t go to a designer — winners in the past have included Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld — but to a businessperson who made a fortune in outdoor clothing and then gave it all away in the name of the environment.
Chouinard, famously publicity shy, wasn’t there to accept it in person. Instead, Charles Conn, chairman of the brand, stood in his place and said, “I hear it in all the themes tonight, a desire to create with more sustainability, with more kindness. It’s a theme that’s been repeated throughout” the evening.
Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the BFC, had said earlier that Chouinard set “a new precedent” for responsible businesses.
“By building a brand that consistently encourages its consumers to buy well and buy less he has shifted consumer mentality on the lifecycle of clothing and created an invaluable blueprint for a fair transition within the apparel industry,” she said.
Model of the Year winner was Bella Hadid, who casts a halo around nearly every brand she wears, driving up sales and raising awareness. In addition to her modeling, she’s been a prolific activist and fundraiser.
In October she was recognized with the Golden Heart Award for Mental Health by the charity God’s Love We Deliver. She and her sister, Gigi Hadid, pledged to donate their 2022 fashion week earnings to charities supporting Ukraine and Palestine.
Stylist Carlos Nazario accepted the award on behalf of Hadid, with an accompanying home video sent in by the model.
“Being the daughter of a refugee father from Palestine, and an immigrant mother from Holland, there’s a sort of work ethic that runs in our blood. It’s not to be the best. It’s not to be better than others. It’s just to be able to succeed because our ancestors have never had an opportunity like this in their lifetime. This is for the Palestinian children. This is for the Dutch children. This is for any child, immigrant or refugee,” said Hadid, who went on to thank her peers and “all the models that show up every single day and work hard with little or no recognition. I know it’s not easy.”
There was also the Leaders of Change award that went to 15 individuals, 10 of whom were recognized for their work in the fields of environmental impact and diversity, equality and inclusion.
They included Bethany Williams, Connor Ives, Gabriela Hearst, Marine Serre, Rafael Pavarotti, Sinead Burke and the Ukrainian stylist Julie Pelipas.
Pelipas took to the stage to thank the British fashion industry for the support of her country.
“We all love fashion here, it’s with us on a daily basis. It is our greatest gift. I want you to imagine, to be doing everything you do, but in a complete darkness — there was no electricity, no heating, no water supply, and under a constant risk of being killed or injured, just in your office. This is exactly how the Ukrainian fashion industry operates right now,” said Pelipas.
“We continue to produce clothes, shoot campaigns and run retail businesses. We even launched new beauty brands and all this out of not normal environments,” she continued, and optimistically invited everyone to the Ukraninan Fashion Awards, in Ukraine, next year.
The conversation took even more of a political turn during the evening, with host Turner-Smith mocking the current U.K. political landscape, floating the idea that Tilda Swinton, one of the evening’s presenters, should run for prime minister.
She also put her environmental activist hat on, urging the evening’s headline sponsor Diet Coke to stop using plastic bottles.
The night’s winners, meanwhile, were thrilled to be picking up their awards.
“Being nominated already means a victory for me, my team and the people that share this path with me,” Pierpaolo Piccioli told WWD ahead of his big win for Designer of the Year for Valentino. “It’s already a party.”
S.S. Daley accepted the BFC Foundation Award saying, “Royal Albert Hall! I feel like Adele. Whoever voted for this category — you have amazing taste. I am super excited about British talent tonight.”
Wales Bonner won the Independent British Brand, where she thanked her longtime collaborator, the stylist Tom Guinness, and her team in a brief speech.
All three awards were voted for by an international judging panel made up of 1,000 industry experts.
Designer of the Year was the biggest prize of the night. Each year it is given to a British or international creative whose collections have made “a notable impact on the industry, defining the shape of global fashion,” according to the BFC.
The original nominees were Demna for Balenciaga; Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson and Loewe; Matthieu Blazy for Bottega Veneta; Miuccia Prada; and Piccioli.
As reported, Balenciaga and Demna pulled out of Monday’s event amid the ongoing controversy over two of the brand’s ad campaigns involving issues of children and pornography.
Both Balenciaga and Demna have apologized for the ads.
Demna was viewed as a front-runner for the award because of his bold, forward-thinking live events, and overall influence on fashion.
During the evening, there was also a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, with The Fashion Salute Show.
“Her Majesty approved of the work” that the BFC did “and helped encourage the future of young creative talent,” said Naomi Campbell, who introduced the tribute.
Designer brands taking part included Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Christopher Kane, David Koma, Dunhill, Edward Crutchley, Erdem, Halpern, Harris Reed, JW Anderson, Matty Bovan, Molly Goddard, Roksanda, Roland Mouret, Simone Rocha, Stella McCartney, Stephen Jones, Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham and Zandra Rhodes.
The fashion show finished with a Great Highland bagpipe as a nod to the queen’s love for Scotland.
The pre-show ceremony involved a “Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak Show,” a fizzy combination of revue, pop concert and fashion show, while the awards ceremony opened with a Year in Review film hosted by Christine Quinn, Tom Daley and Munya Chawawa.
The film included highlights from the four fashion capital cities; the fight for freedom in Iran, and men and women’s football.
There was a live performance by singer Shygirl, who performed her hit single “Cleo,” in a white puffer as big as the state of Alaska.
Charlotte Tilbury presented and accepted the award on behalf of Katie Grand, who won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator.
The cosmetics guru praised Blow for introducing her and Grand in the mid ’90s.
“Issy Blow was one of the reasons I dreamed of fashion,” Tilbury read from a note given to her by Grand, thanking her family and friends. Grand could not attend the event.
Jefferson Hack, cofounder of Dazed Media, received a Special Recognition Award for Cultural Curation from his friend Swinton, who compared him to the English poet William Blake, and called him “my darling pal, my comrade.”
The annual Fashion Awards event raises funds for the BFC Foundation, a charity that supports the future growth and success of the British fashion industry by focusing on talent, education, grant-giving and business mentoring, and aim to improve equality and opportunity in the industry.
The BFC said that in the financial year 2021-22, it remitted more than 1.3 million pounds in funds to designers and students.
Launch Gallery: Inside the British Fashion Awards 2022
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