An hour-long red carpet churned out London’s most renowned fashion folk for the British Fashion Awards last night. With everybody who knew
anybody everybody present, high-profile guests posed gamely for the roving party photographers and, just as often, for each others’ cell-phone cameras — though an immaculately coiffed Suzy Menkes opted for the old-school equivalent instead: a wind-up disposable camera. Everyone wanted the chance to snap Valentino, Dita Von Teese, and Rita Ora (one amusing photo op saw her paired with Manolo Blahnik, whose expression suggested he wasn’t quite sure who the pretty girl bursting out of her Vivienne Westwood gown was). The downside to all that Instagramming, perhaps, proved to be that no-one wanted to be caught with a canape just in case it hit Twitter. I risked it, and the mini beef Wellingtons were delicious.
With fourteen awards up for grabs, Valentino Garavani presented the night’s first trophy, perhaps mispronouncing Alexia Chung’s name when awarding her the hat-trick in the British Style category. Chung didn’t mind — thanks to her U.S. relocation, she said she was glad to be remembered back home — and her bashful remarks set the tone for acceptance speeches that followed, with each winner striving to sound more self-effacing and surprised at the podium.
Everyone thanked the British Fashion Council, their design teams, families, children, pets, horoscopes, and so on (and on), but nobody had prepared remarks at all — in accepting the award for Emerging Talent in Menswear, Jonathan Saunders opened with, “Oh, crumbs.” Central St. Martins professor Louise Wilson got delightfully emotional accepting the Isabella Blow award, despite noting that a “reputation as a nasty mean bitch” meant she should keep her speech stern. Manolo Blahnik also choked up a little receiving his Outstanding Achievement trophy. (With a video clip featuring high praise from Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, Franca Sozzani, and a cackling Kate Moss, that’s understandable.)
Another common thread in victory speeches was of ‘homecoming,’ and a very fashionable sense of patriotism buoyed by Great Britain’s great year. (Gift bags contained little Union Jacks, which audience members actually waved on a few occasions.) Winning the Menswear Designer award for his work at Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones described himself as a London designer through and through, “even though [he’s] based in Paris.” Stella McCartney took home both the Designer of the Year and Designer Brand of the Year awards. The “very chuffed” designer — in a very sparkly jumpsuit — told the story of how she’d always known she’d need to come home, despite loving her time working at a Parisian atelier. She didn’t name the fashion house in question (though it’s presumably Chloé) and spoke of a “Mr. Anonymous” in charge who told her she’d be doomed to fail on her return to London, as there’d never been, or would be, a British-based international brand under a lady’s name. How you like me now, Mr. Anon? McCartney seemed to be saying, to which everyone applauded.
Click through our slideshow for photos of all the night’s guests, nominees, and winners — including Salma Hayek; Jourdan Dunn; Rita Ora; and Princess Beatrice of York (sans hat, sadly).